It was an unusual morning. Dad was going into work a bit later than normal and was eating breakfast as the kids were heading out the door to school. He took exception to what his daughter was wearing and said, “Young lady, you are not going to school looking like that!” She burst into tears. Her brother stepped in and said, “Her clothes are really pretty modest for today and I only have ten minutes to get us to school!” More words were exchanged and Mom calmly said, “This is not the time.” Dad backed off.
After the kids left, Dad offered the toughest words for man to say, “I am sorry. I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” She did. Then they discussed how quickly the last few years had passed. He had taken a new position that required more time and travel than expected. Now their 5th grader was a 9th grader and their son was a junior in high school. He was convicted of an unconscious unreality that had caused drift in relationship with the kids. Reality is that they are maturing. It takes a conscious effort to mature in relationship with them, especially through the teenage years. That does not mean there are no rules. It does mean it takes more effort to ensure all are on the same page.
He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When He had spit on the man’s eyes and put His hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put His hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. – Mark 8:23-25. This is the only two stage miracle recorded in scripture. Why? There is no sure way to know but commentary in the Voice translation suggests Jesus wanted to demonstrate to His disciples that their inability to see His purpose can be healed, even if it takes time. As dads, an inability to connect with teenage kids can be healed by committing time and making a conscious effort to relate well as they mature.
Conscious reality requires prioritizing physical presence, engaging emotionally and leading spiritually by example. Through conscious effort, the teenage years can be more than a blur. Dads can mature in relationship with their kids as their kids mature.
Tips to Be Conscious:
- Schedule one-on-one time by dating each child at least monthly;
- Recognize and celebrate key steps in maturity – the move to middle school, high school, puberty, driving, graduation, college, marriage, parenting;
- Use accomplishments as opportunities to discuss discipline and maturity;
- Give your wife, children and battle buddies freedom to give candid feedback.
Prayer guide: Lord, I was comfortable as a father when I could wrestle with my kids and they would ask questions I could answer. I confess that as their interests diverged from mine, I turned to work under the auspice that I needed to provide better. That was a lie. That was a journey in unconscious unreality in relationship with my family. Forgive me. Guide me in a conscious effort to mature in relationship with You and with my kids as they mature. Amen.
A faithful father makes conscious efforts to mature in relationship with his kids.