Q: My mother has always been a sweet, caring and soft-spoken woman, but she is developing Alzheimer’s disease and becoming increasingly difficult and demanding. While I understand the importance of honouring my parent, I find myself questioning what “honouring” truly entails in this difficult situation.
Focus on the Family Malaysia: We emphatise with you. Caring for an ageing loved one demands self-discipline and sacrifice, especially in the circumstances you have described.
Honour implies giving great respect and care for our loved ones, not begrudgingly, but built on a foundation of love and genuine concern for their needs and well-being. It also means placing the highest value on our loved ones regardless of whether they “deserve” it.
Once this choice is made, the key issue is knowing how to put it into practice. The phrase “honour your father and mother” does not provide specific instructions. It does not delve into topics such as pensions, nursing homes or financial assistance. It also does not obligate you or impose a duty on you to bring ageing parents into your home.
Instead, the art of honouring a challenging elder is based on intuitive knowledge. That knowledge, in turn, is rooted in your love and commitment to your mother.
Out of that commitment and your day-to-day interactions with her, you will develop an awareness of practical ways to serve and care for her immediate needs. This may mean sharing your home and offering financial support.
It may also involve seeking support services, filling out endless health insurance forms, providing transport and communicating with her doctors.
Remember that it is never too late to love and honour your elders. As you seek to honour your mother, your love for her will grow and your relationship with her will be enriched, even as her health declines.
Q: I have heard that social media can lead to depression and mental health problems in children. Is this true?
Focus on the Family Malaysia: There is a growing consensus among healthcare experts and social scientists that social media can lead to adverse mental health outcomes, including depression, anxiety, thoughts of self-harm and even suicide.
Some may think that this is alarming. However, there is evidence suggesting that excessive use of social media can be linked to depression and mental health issues in children.
Teenagers began adopting smartphones and engaging with social media as a standard practice around 2012. San Diego State University professor of psychology Dr Jean Twenge highlighted a significant increase in mental health issues associated with this trend.
In her widely publicised 2017 article titled “Have smartphones destroyed a generation?”, she said: “Teenagers who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on non-screen activities are more likely to be happy.”
Researchers such as Twenge believe screens and social media have a detrimental impact on the mental health of teenagers in adverse ways.
Social media, in particular, often fosters a culture of comparison leading to self-esteem issues for teenagers who feel they do not measure up. Seeking affirmation through “likes” on their posts becomes crucial, and the absence of such validation can contribute to feelings of depression.
Online bullying is another significant concern, as a teenager’s reputation can be instantly tarnished in a public manner, leaving them with limited avenues for recourse.
Staying up late scrolling through social media, texting and online interactions can result in sleep deprivation.
Finally, children who predominantly interact online are less likely to develop face-to-face relationships. They tend to miss out on crucial social skills without face-to-face interactions.
For these reasons, the combination of social media and smartphone use can pose challenges to the emotional and relational development as well as maturity of adolescents.
This article is contributed by Focus on the Family Malaysia, a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting and strengthening the family unit. It provides a myriad of programmes and resources, including professional counselling services, to the community. For more information, visit family.org.my. Comments: [email protected]