Q: Our daughter starts kindergarten next week, and Iím worried about dropping her off at school that first day. Sheís very attached to us, and even a little clingy. We donít want to make a scene.
Jim: The first day of school is an emotional roller coaster. Moms and Dads are sometimes in tears over the fact that their baby has grown up so fast, and kids are often full of trepidation at the prospect of entering a new and unfamiliar environment.
My mom and I experienced this trauma on my first day of kindergarten. She had to drag me through the doors kicking and screaming. But my negative reaction was short-lived. After the initial shock of that first parting, I quickly fell in love with school. I even developed a crush on my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Smith!
A little separation anxiety on the first day of school is only natural. Most kids quickly overcome their fears and look forward to going to school every day, just as I did. Hopefully, youíve been ďtalking upĒ the experience with your daughter and helping her look forward to all the fun sheíll have learning new things and meeting new friends.
If, despite your best efforts, your daughter throws a fit on that first day, the best thing you can do for her is to lovingly but firmly insist that she join the teacher and the other students. Volunteering to stay in her room beyond the appointed drop-off time will only prolong the separation trauma, not to mention disrupt the class.
Many parents are pleasantly surprised, and maybe even a little disappointed, to discover that their kids have no trouble saying goodbye on that first day of school. Rather than whimpering and acting afraid, they hug Mom and Dad and then run to their classmates without so much as looking back.
Q: My wife and I have been married for six years and have two small children. Overall, we have a good marriage, but my wifeís impulsive spending habits are a constant source of stress. Every month, we have the same argument when the credit card bill arrives. She cries, apologizes, but then keeps spending!
Juli: Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. We probably all fit that definition to some extent! Itís clear from your description of what is happening in your marriage that your current strategy isnít working.
Money is a very emotional topic. People spend and save money for a variety of reasons that are often rooted in emotional needs like security, comfort, relational power and validation. So, when you and your wife have your monthly credit card bill confrontation, you are not just talking about dollars and cents.
Instead of reacting to the bill every month, it is time for you to be proactive in addressing this issue in your marriage. Your local church may offer free financial counseling or budgeting courses. One of my favorites, which is offered nationwide, is called Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey. Taking this course will help you and your wife work through a budget based on principles that you can agree on. (You can find out more information by going to www.daveramsey.com.)
Because financial issues also involve emotions and relational tension, you may want to take the additional step of seeking marriage counseling. Yes, these steps require an investment of time and effort up front. However, financial disagreement is consistently listed as a leading cause of divorce. Your marriage is worth the effort!
Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family, host of the Focus on the Family radio program, and a husband and father of two. Dr. Juli Slattery is a licensed psychologist, co-host of Focus on the Family, author of several books, and a wife and mother of three.
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