Focus on the Family

Soon-to-be teen father must learn responsibility

Q: Our teenage son's girlfriend is pregnant. He's 17 and she's 16. It's difficult to admit this to anyone. What does he most need to hear from us?

Jim: We're sorry to learn of this difficult situation. Your son and his girlfriend have clearly made a serious mistake, but mistakes of this kind can be important stepping- stones to maturity and adulthood.

Our counseling team suggests that your whole family can play a role in guiding the expectant mother through this frightening new experience. She needs to be reminded of the value of the precious life she's carrying. In partnership with her parents, you can help her weigh and balance her options and determine what her personal goals ought to be at this point. She won't be able to do this without the assistance of caring, life-affirming adults.

Your son also needs your understanding. At his age, he's trying hard to become his own person. Unfortunately, his bid for independence has put him in an awkward position. Unlike the girl, who has to deal with the realities of pregnancy, a teenage dad can find it easy to dissociate himself from the situation. Part of your role will be to see that this doesn't happen. Gently but firmly compel him to face the implications of his choices. Talk to him about the sanctity of human life. Help him think about the tremendous and awesome responsibility of bringing a child into the world. Encourage him to discuss these issues openly with his girlfriend and her parents. Urge him to explore ways in which he can take an active role in the pregnancy, the birth and the crucial decisions that lie ahead.

We'd strongly suggest that all of you seek professional counseling as you attempt to navigate these waters. Contact Focus for a free consultation and referral. May God grant you strength during this emotional time!

Q: Should I accept a 'friend' request on Facebook from an old boyfriend? I'm very much in love with and committed to my husband, so I feel sure that this will not pose a threat to our marriage.

Dr. Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: The first thing you should do is sit down and discuss this with your husband. Tell him about the 'friend' request, and ask him how he feels about it. It's important to be open and honest and lay everything out on the table. Keeping secrets only undermines trust. If your marriage is as strong and healthy as you say it is, then it's worth protecting.

A recent survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers revealed that Facebook has been a major factor in U.S. divorces the last few years. You need to be careful about exposing your relationship to threats of any kind, no matter how remote they may seem.

Since your former boyfriend has initiated this contact, you should consider his motives. If you suspect that his intentions are not entirely appropriate or honorable, ignore the request and move on. Plus, you don't know what's going on in his life, and this might cause him to stumble.

If you're still confused, apply this basic litmus test: Would it be helpful or harmful to your marriage to reestablish a connection with this person? If you're feeling inclined to grant the request, you may need to pause and evaluate your own motives. Are you certain that you don't feel compelled to revisit the past because of present discontent? We're not suggesting that this is the case, but it's a question worth considering. In the final analysis, it's a decision that you and your husband must make together.

(Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.)



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