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Was reading my daughter's diary wrong?

Was Reading My Daughter's Diary Wrong?

While cleaning out my preteen daughter's bedroom, I discovered her diary and couldn't resist reading it. I learned a lot more about her feelings and struggles than she ever communicates to us, and some of them made me sad and upset. But I feel guilty that I snooped and don't want to let her know I know some of the struggles she's going through. Was I wrong to pry?

That's a tough call, and I'm sure whatever I say will invite strong reaction. But you asked for my opinion and that's what I'll give. If anyone disagrees with me, then I respect her instincts regarding her own children. With that disclaimer in place, let me say I don't think you were wrong.

It's important we respect our children's privacy, but in our generation we've lost too many opportunities to bring light and life by exalting the "right to privacy." When faced with gray-area parenting questions, I usually look to my heavenly Father's example for clues. God grants us free will and freedom of speech (Deuteronomy 30:19), but he unashamedly confesses to weighing our hearts (Proverbs 21:2). It doesn't sound to me like the "right to privacy" is on his agenda.

I don't recommend talking to your daughter about your findings, but I certainly encourage you to talk to the Lord about them. Start with your reaction of sadness and frustration. Take these feelings to Jesus in prayer so you don't inadvertently take them out on your daughter. Thank him for allowing a peek into your daughter's struggles and ask him for divine opportunities and effective ways to communicate your love to her. Perhaps then she'll begin to open up to you more and prying will be unnecessary.

How Do I Explain My Miscarriage?

I recently miscarried and, needless to say, I'm heartbroken. But my young son is asking all kinds of questions about the new baby. How should I explain to my child that he's no longer going to have a little brother or sister?

I might begin by adjusting your question a bit. Your son does have a little brother or sister. Psalm 139:16 reads, "Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Now the question remains, How do I explain to my child that he will have to wait until heaven to meet his sibling?

My former pastor, Jack Hayford, says in his book, I'll Hold You in Heaven, "Remember, too, that God promises a reunion someday with your child." For miscarrying mothers, this means: I may not have been able to receive my child now, but my pregnancy wasn't a waste of time. For the parents of stillborn babies or those who died early in infancy, this means: We never got a chance to know you … but we shall, some day. And for the mother who chose an abortion, there's peace: One day we'll meet again in heaven, where our relationship will be whole and restored.

The Bible, once again, has the best advice even (maybe especially) for children. First Thessalonians 4 tells us to comfort one another with these words: "We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him … And so we will be with the Lord forever."

Romans 15:4 says, "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." You and your son will have to wait awhile to meet your new baby (and I know patience isn't a child's greatest virtue), but "hope does not disappoint!"

Could My Child Have ADHD?

How do you know if your child has ADHD? My teenage daughter has low self-esteem, hasn't found an activity she wants to stick with, struggles to focus on her studies, and doesn't enjoy reading. Could she have this disorder?

First of all, let's talk about the differences between ADHD, which you cited, and ADD. The "H" makes a big difference! It stands for hyperactivity, and it doesn't sound as though your daughter struggles in this area. ADHD usually manifests itself in impulsivity, excessive talking, and constant movement. My son has been diagnosed with ADHD—and believe me, the "H" makes it relatively easy to spot this disorder.

ADD, on the other hand, can be more subtle. Children with ADD often are quiet and don't attract much attention to themselves. Frequently they're not diagnosed until later in childhood, usually after struggles in school. They're often called "dreamers" because they have a difficult time focusing on the task at hand.

Is your daughter unusually forgetful or disorganized? Do you think she's capable of making higher grades but her inability to pay attention to details causes her to make careless mistakes? Would you say she doesn't enjoy reading because she has a short attention span? Do you ever get the impression your daughter isn't really listening to what you're saying?

Wait a minute; that could apply to just about all children!

And that brings up a very real problem with trying to diagnose this disorder. At one time or another most children will be hyper, talkative, impulsive kids who are prone to distraction, daydreaming, and forgetfulness. Thank goodness there isn't a pill invented to prevent kids from being kids. But if you still have concerns, then I recommend you visit your family physician or pediatrician.

Either way, continue to pray that God will reveal to you both the gifts he's given your daughter. When she discovers them, you'll probably be amazed at her ability to focus, excel, and grow in the confidence that comes from knowing why she was created and where she's headed.

Lisa Whelchel is the author of Creative Correction (Focus on the Family) and the mother of three. Visit her website at www.lisawhelchel.com. If you have a parenting question for Lisa, e-mail it to her at tcwedit@christianitytoday.com.

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

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