Q: Do you think it's OK for a 14-year-old boy to sleep in the same bed with his 11-year-old sister on a family vacation? Our family of four will be sharing a single room with two queen-sized beds, and I don't like the idea of sleeping without my wife for two weeks.
Jim: As someone who travels frequently and misses his wife when he's gone, I can appreciate your wanting to be close to her. In this case, though, I'd strongly encourage you to make a sacrifice during the trip. Given the potential life-altering consequences, it simply isn't worth taking the chance -- especially when it involves a 14-year-old boy who is going through puberty and a girl who may be about to enter puberty.
Though we rarely hear about it, sibling child sexual abuse is a very real and very destructive phenomenon. Our Focus on the Family Counseling staff receives calls dealing with heartbreaking cases of this nature on a regular basis. You're best to play it safe and err on the side of caution.
An option you may not have considered is to reserve a rollaway bed at each motel where you'll be staying. One of the kids can sleep on the rollaway while the other sleeps on the queen-sized bed. If one isn't available, another alternative would be to bring along a sleeping bag and an air-mattress.
This situation raises one last thought and brings up a larger issue. Have you and your wife made it a practice of having age-appropriate discussions about sexuality with your kids? If not, you'll want to begin doing so. Given the many risks and temptations in today's youth culture, they need your loving guidance in this area. Our Focus counselors would be happy to help coach you through the process. Please give them a call.
Q: I really hate my job. It's stressful and has sucked the life out of me. It's time-consuming to where I can't even look for another job to support my wife and kids. Would it be wrong for me to quit without another job?
Dr. Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: Few things can be more stressful and miserable than a bad work situation. This is especially true for someone like you who takes seriously the responsibility of providing for your family. What can often be overlooked, however, is that "providing" encompasses more than just the financial. It also means being there for your family emotionally, spiritually and relationally. If your job threatens to permanently compromise these areas, a change may be for the best.
How you make that change should be a matter of careful thought and prayer. While matters of health and ethics should always take priority, generally the best career moves are made from a position of strength. Things like spousal buy-in and unity, adequate income or financial reserves, and an awareness of your skills, interests and aptitudes can offer real advantages and help you avoid bad, desperate decisions.
With this in mind, consider moving forward on some things, perhaps while still hanging in there at work. If you haven't already, bring your wife into the loop. Not only do you need her support and wisdom, but you should also view this as an opportunity for you both to evaluate what you really want. Work out a plan together. This might include saving six months' salary, or her temporarily taking a larger role income-wise. Seek the help of a career counselor and learn what kind of jobs are in your wheelhouse. Finally, seek the support of wise friends, and invite them to pray and advocate for you.
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.