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Boy Crazy!

My daughter seems too young for this obsession.

Dear Lisa,

My nine-year-old daughter's boy crazy! She calls boys on the phone, e-mails them, and seems obsessed with them. She seems too young for this level of interest. How can I help her dial this down a notch?

Your concern is more on target than you realize. Your nine-year-old is on the verge of womanhood, where the thrill of the opposite sex is all part of the way God designed her. The question is, are you conscientiously teaching her how to draw the line emotionally?

Boys are most vulnerable visually, so wise parents don't allow them to look at stimulating pictures and movies. I think a girl's heart is most susceptible through her ears. That's why your first line of defense means paying close attention to whom she's listening and from whom she's receiving advice.

Many popular books, videos, and magazines marketed to today's preteen girls are saturated with talk about boys. This unhealthy infatuation with romance can awaken feelings she shouldn't have to deal with at her age. Your daughter's sexuality is just beginning to spark. Be careful not to add fuel to the fire by allowing media choices that encourage your little girl to grow up too fast.

You already realize phoning and e-mailing boys is fanning a flame that could get out of control down the road. So don't allow your daughter to initiate conversations with boys. She may accuse you of being "old-fashioned," but they don't call them "the good old days" for nothing.

The hard part will be encouraging your daughter to have healthy friendships with boys while reminding her not to open her heart to every young man who makes it flutter. The best way to help her achieve this balance is with plenty of heart-to-heart talks, ensuring your voice is the main one in her ear.

Sudden Death

My five-year-old son's best friend's mother unexpectedly died recently, and now he worries constantly that something will happen to his dad and me. How can I put his fears to rest?

These fears are such a normal part of childhood, I honestly don't know if you'll ever be able to put them to rest fully. Even adults worry about losing loved ones, especially when we're face-to-face with unexpected loss. Children don't believe well-intentioned appeasements such as, "Don't worry, nothing's going to happen to me," anymore than we do.

The best advice I can offer is to reassure him as honestly as possible. Promise him you and his dad will take care of yourselves to the best of your ability. Encourage him that the odds on you sticking around for a really long time are in his favor. I doubt he'll understand statistics, so assure him in terms to which he can relate. For instance, have him think of all his friends whose mommies and daddies are living, and how that means that more than likely nothing bad will happen to you, either.

My husband and I travel a lot, so this particular fear rears its scary head often in our home. The last time we had this conversation, it helped our youngest daughter to know we had a plan in place in case her fear became a reality. We explained that if anything happened to us, her grandmother and grandfather would move into our house and raise her. She, of course, followed up with, "But what if they both die?" "Then," I explained, "your Aunt Cindy and Uncle Tim would care for you." Just knowing she would be in loving hands helped her for the moment.

Sadly, your son's witnessed firsthand that there's no guarantee for what tomorrow holds. But we do know Who holds tomorrow! The most obvious way to comfort your son is to remind him God's in control and he holds our future in his loving hands.

Spiritually Single

My husband isn't a Christian, so I'm raising our children to be believers by myself. While my husband doesn't prevent us from going to church, my kids wonder why he doesn't go with us and why we disagree on some parenting issues. How can I parent in a way that respects their dad yet honors the Lord?

Commonsense tells us we should submit to our husband only if he's submitted to God. There's one major roadblock to this, however: God's Word isn't common, and it doesn't always make sense! Case in point—1 Peter 3:1 says, "Wives, fit in with your husbands' plans; for then if they refuse to listen when you talk to them about the Lord, they will be won by your respectful, pure behavior. Your godly lives will speak to them better than any words" (TLB).

You may be thinking, What? I'm supposed to follow my husband even if he isn't following God? There's no telling where we'll end up! Besides, my children's spiritual well-being is too important to risk. But that's where trust comes in. Even if you're unable to trust your husband, you're still called to trust God.

Are you willing to submit to your husband's authority as head of your home and then trust God to take care of your kids? Can you keep from nagging or disparaging remarks when you walk out the door without your husband on Sunday mornings?

By respecting their dad, you'll honor the Lord. And by modeling obedience to God's Word, you'll accomplish your primary goal of training your children to be believers. (And they may not be the only ones who come to believe because of your quiet faith.)

Lisa Whelchel is the author of Creative Correction (Focus on the Family). She and her husband, Steve, have three children.Visit her website at www.lisawhelchel.com. If you have parenting questions for Lisa, e-mail them to tcwedit@christianitytoday.com.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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