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Teenagers Push us Closer to God

by Archie Wortham    --show me more like this

"One of the main reason most parents do not know how to convey their love to their teenagers is because teenagers, like younger children are behaviorally oriented. Adults are primarily verbally oriented," Dr. Ross Campbell says in his book "How to really love your Teenager."

The best I can do is try to love them. And that what Dr. Campbell says: unconditional love. Remember that stuff? That's how God is supposed to love us? And I'm sure that God gets annoyed, as I get annoyed, but at night I find myself talking more to God, and telling him how much I love him. At those God-fearing moments, it's as if I'm in synch with my 13-year-old who's given me another reason to ground him. It's as if I'm linked with my 13-year-old young man who's hurt me, and can't contain how that hurts him. It's as if, when I talk to God, my 13-year-old is the recipient of the prayer, help me to understand you more. I'm not sure if at that moment I'm talking to God or to my son. All I know is both are humbling experiences.

When our son is good, he is good. He talks well, he behaves well. But he has so much energy it's unnerving. Then I think about myself, even today, I have to stay busy. I have to be doing something. And part of doing something is reading about what makes teenagers, especially boys, tick. Society has pigeonholed them into what they cannot do, that many of them don't have an outlet to even know what they can.

Think about it. If your son doesn't play sports, how can he get some of that exploding testosterone out of his body? He can't stay in bed or the bathroom forever. So what can they do? That's why play is so important to dads and sons. That's how we principally communicate and connect. That's how we show them who we are and learn something about who they are.

As researchers look at the ways fathers connect, they find that the three levels of connection for men are based on something I've talked about before: interaction, accessibility and responsibility.

As men, we have a responsibility to our community, our families, and particularly to our sons to make sure they know we care for them, despite their behavior. We have the responsibility to make sure they know there are things we will not tolerate. We owe that to society and the legacy we leave their children, because what we allow them to get away with, will become a tradition for some.

Being interactive cannot be overemphasized. As dads, we can do this on many levels. We can interact with them at their schools, with their friends. If you don't know your kids' friends, you don't know your kids. It's often said that men and their children communicate best when they play. Play can be a form of work, and showing them a good work ethic through play provides them with a picture of a good provider.

And none of this can be done unless you're not accessible. Accessibility says it all for me. I can preach all I want. I can tell you to do this, and ways to do that, but if you're not there physically, it can't be done. If you're not there mentally, it's not going to happen. So we have to take it upon ourselves to make ourselves available. We have to stop the poker games, turn off the TV, and know their friends' names and the names of their teachers so they know we care. And we do.

All of you who read this care. I care. But sometimes I'm incapable of showing it. I get angry because I'm not appreciated. I get angry because they're in their own world. I get angry because they only want me around when they need me. But at least I can comfort myself knowing they know I'm here when they're in need. Then is when I can be responsible for being accessible so we can grow and interact, as they become men.

"Here's a test, to see if your mission in life is complete. If you're alive, then it isn't." Richard Bach, author Jonathan Livingston Seagull

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