Q: As a father, what should I be trying to accomplish with my son in his teen years?
A: Someone has said, "Link a boy to the right man and he seldom goes wrong." I believe that is true. If a dad and his son can develop hobbies together or other common interests, the rebellious years can pass in relative tranquility. What they experience may be remembered for a lifetime.
I recall a song, written by Dan Fogelberg, that tells about a father who shares his love of music with his son. It is called "Leader of the Band," and its message touches something deep within me. The son talks of a father who "earned his love through discipline, a thundering, velvet hand." The father's "song is in my soul." The son himself has become a "living legacy to the leader of the band."
Can't you see this man going to visit his aged father today, with a lifetime of love passing between them? That must have been what God had in mind when he gave dads to boys.
Let me address your question directly: What common ground are you cultivating with your impressionable son? Some fathers build or repair cars with their sons; some construct small models or make things in a woodshop. My dad and I hunted and fished together. There is no way to describe what those days meant to me as we entered the woods in the early hours of the morning. How could I get angry at this man who took time to be with me? We had wonderful talks while coming home from a day of laughter and fun in the country. I tried to maintain that kind of contact with my son.
Opportunities to communicate openly and build the father-son relationship have to be created. It's a goal that's worth whatever it takes to achieve.
Q: Can you give me a simple definition of menopause?
A: It is a time of transition in a woman's life when her reproductive capacity is phasing out. Menstruation gradually stops and hormonal changes occur. Specifically, the ovaries produce only about one-eighth the estrogen they once did.
This affects not only the reproductive system, but the emotions as well. If you are having irregular periods, if you frequently cry for no apparent reason, if you are having "hot flashes" or night sweats, if your interest in sex has diminished, if you have low self-esteem and are depressed most of the time, and if you lack the energy to get through your day -- you need immediate medical attention.
There is hope for women who are suffering from symptoms associated with menopause. Estrogen replacement therapy can help put you on your feet again. But there are other disorders that produce symptoms similar to menopause. That's why it is important to have a complete physical exam to get a definitive diagnosis.
James Dobson is chairman of the board for Focus on the Family, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the home.