Just a few years back, my son Chance turned thirteen years old, and yes, I’m seeking your prayers. He’s a good kid, but the teenage years are always interesting.
When my older three kids turned thirteen, I took each of them for a one-on-one trip with Dad—a weekend away where we could talk about “rites of passage” kinds of issues.
Chance is much younger than his siblings; he’s almost like an only child, and we have talks all the time. Plus, being our youngest, I’m probably more relaxed with him. So, leading up to his birthday, my bride reminded me that it’s still important to get away for some one-on-one time. She said, “You’re his dad, and those are the times that will help him grow up. You can’t miss this opportunity.” She was right, of course.
So, Chance and I went to a hotel about an hour away, and we just hung out as guys for the weekend. We played in the pool. I picked him up and threw him up in the air so he could make a big splash—things he would be embarrassed to do if his buddies had been there. It was just a fun time, and he knew he could open up and trust his dad.
Maybe more than anything, it was good to get away—just the two of us, like a private vacation. I could focus my attention all on him. And even though it cost a few pennies, by getting away some good things happened that otherwise would not have happened. Driving back home, Chance told me, “Dad, I didn’t know I was going to have this much fun.”
We had fun together, but I also wanted to speak truth to him about some big issues. That’s part of our coaching role as dads. There are good resources out there about some of the different approaches to rites of passage, and I hope you’ll use them. My approach was to simply speak from my heart on five key issues, and I want to give those to you today.
Now, let me say that you should revisit these over and over; don’t drop them on your kids in one shot from the fire hose. They learn best through consistent reinforcement as teachable moments come along. Briefly, here are five things I shared with my son—each worthy of a good conversation:
First, give information about physical and emotional changes—the “facts of life” a child of his age needs to know. I was glad, and a little surprised, to see how much my son knows. The dude is down the road a bit on this stuff.
Two, make sure to bring God into the picture. Open the Word and show him that these changes are part of God’s design. He made all of us with great care, and He has a purpose for our lives—even when it comes to sex. Talk about the blessings of marriage, and the positive impact of following God’s way. Tell him you’re praying for the girl he will marry some day.
Next, how to handle temptations. Shoot straight about the things he could see on TV, in movies and on line. Some of that might look good, but “it isn’t God’s best for you, Son.” Give him specific strategies how to handle it.
Number four: relating to the opposite sex. With my son, we talked about how are women to be thought of and treated, and how that should show up in our actions. And dad, make sure you are modeling that yourself.
And finally, the issue of trust. As I gave my son a vision for what Mom and Dad expect of him as a young man, I also told him, “Son, no matter what, you can trust your mom and pop. You can trust your dad. Come to us. Ask us about any situation.”
Those are the things I shared. Adapt them to your own approach. And make the most of that time when your son is starting the transition to manhood. Be there to coach him.
I hope you’ll make time to do this occasionally with each of your kids. Every father-child relationship needs those fun, focused times to bond you closer together.