Q: What can we do about our teen's use of marijuana? When we confronted him, he said that it's now socially acceptable and on the verge of being legalized. He's refused to stop, and we're not sure how to respond.
Jim: Sadly, your son is correct in some respects. The social stigma against marijuana is diminishing rapidly, and some states -- including my home state of Colorado -- have legalized it for even non-medicinal purposes.
Nevertheless, marijuana remains off-limits to anyone under 21 in every state, and is still illegal at the federal level. Legalities aside, the fact remains that cannabis is a mind-altering and addictive drug. Your son needs to know that his physical and mental health is being compromised. If you've noticed recent changes in his personality, you can strengthen your case by describing these behavioral shifts in specific terms. You can also direct him the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (www.samhsa.gov), where he can see images of "the brain on pot" and access facts about the effects of marijuana on the central nervous system.
Once you've covered the science, don't hesitate to draw a line in the sand. Let your son know that, as long as he's living with you, the weed has to go. The permissive attitudes of society have nothing to do with the standards governing your home. Set firm and consistent boundaries, and enforce them by imposing swift and powerful consequences -- for example, the loss of cellphone or driving privileges.
If he refuses to cooperate, our counseling team recommends that you seek professional help together, as a family. The most successful treatment programs take a family systems approach that involves intensive evaluation and a series of counseling sessions offered in an environment of community and accountability.
Q: How can couples achieve intimacy with a newborn in the house? How can we keep the spark going?
Dr. Greg Smalley, executive director of Marriage and Family Formation: After the birth of a baby, interest in sex can be very different for each person. Some want to resume intimacy as soon as possible. Others experience a decrease in desire. There can be many reasons for this: postpartum depression, fatigue, preoccupation with the baby, fear of discomfort during intercourse (due to temporary physiological changes following the birth), tension or anxiety about new responsibilities, and hormonal changes.
Before you and your spouse resume your sexual relationship, talk with your doctor. Ask specific questions about how long you should wait before intercourse and what you might expect physically.
Medical considerations aside, the key to a couple's sexual relationship after childbirth is not how active their sex life is. Instead, it is tied to their understanding of one another's needs. Ask each other questions like, "What would make our intimate relationship a '10' to you?" "What do you need from me sexually right now?"
It's important to really listen to how your mate responds to these questions. Don't diminish his or her responses. Remember, this is what your mate needs from you sexually right now. There is no right or wrong answer. If you receive an answer that is below your expectations, honor your spouse, even though you may not agree.
And don't forget, a wife will respond sexually after she feels emotionally connected to her husband. Make sure you're focusing on meeting each other's emotional and relational needs. Talking about your day, praying together, setting relationship goals and having regular date nights will help build your emotional relationship.
A positive sexual relationship stems from a positive relationship first. Once your spouse feels like you're honoring his or her needs, then he or she can better respond to yours, too.
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.