Focus on the Family with Dr. James Dobson
QUESTION: I’m twenty-two years old and am still living at home. It’s driving me nuts. My folks are in my face every day. They want me to get a full-time job ‘cause I only work part-time at a convenience store. Why can’t they get off my case and leave me alone?
DR. DOBSON: With all respect, I think it’s time for you to pack. Many young adults like you continue to hang around the house because they don’t know what to do next. That is a recipe for trouble. Your mother and father can’t help “parenting” you if you remain under their noses. To them, it seems like only yesterday since you were born. They find it difficult to think of you as an adult.
The way you live probably irritates them, too. They hate your messy room, which would require a tetanus shot just to walk through. They don’t like your music. They go to bed early and arise with the sun; you keep the same hours as hamsters. You drive the family car like you’ve been to Kamikaze Driving School. They want you to get a job — go to school — do something. Every day brings a new argument — a new battle. When things deteriorate to that point, it’s time to get out.
QUESTION: I’ve heard that we forget more than 80 percent of what we learn. When you consider the cost of getting an education, I wonder why we put all that effort into examinations, textbooks, homework and years spent in boring classrooms. Is education really worth what we invest in it?
DR. DOBSON: In fact, it is. There are many valid reasons for learning, even if forgetting will take its usual toll. First, one of the important functions of the learning process is the selfdiscipline and self-control that it fosters. Good students learn to follow directions, carry out assignments, and channel their mental faculties. Second, even if the facts and concepts can’t be recalled, the individual knows they exist and where to find them. He or she can retrieve the information if needed. Third, old learning makes new learning easier. Each mental exercise gives us more associative cues with which to link future ideas and concepts, and we are changed for having been through the process of learning. Fourth, we don’t really forget everything that is beyond the reach of our memories. The information is stored in the brain and will return to consciousness when properly stimulated. And fifth, we are shaped by the influence of intelligent and charismatic people who taught us.
I wish there were an easier, more efficient process for shaping human minds than the slow and painful experience of education. But until a “learning pill” is developed, the old-fashioned approach will have to do.
QUESTION: Our fourteen-yearold recently came to my husband and me to say, “I’m pregnant.” Nothing has ever upset us more than hearing those words. What should our attitude toward her be now?
DR. DOBSON: Responding to a teenage pregnancy is one of the most difficult trials parents are ever asked to face. When the news breaks, it’s reasonable to feel anger at the girl who has brought this humiliation and pain into her life. How dare this kid do something so stupid and hurtful to herself and the entire family!
Once you have caught your breath, however, a more rational and loving response is appropriate. This is no time for recrimination. Your daughter needs your understanding and wisdom now more than ever. She’ll face many important decisions in the next few months, and you can’t afford to alienate yourselves from her.
If you can summon a measure of strength and love at this stressful time, you should be able to create the bond that often develops between those who have survived a crisis together.
Dr. Dobson is founder and Chairman Emeritus of the nonprofit organization Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, Colo. 80995 (www.focusonthefamily.org).