Fathers, how do we maintain the fragile connection with the heart of our son or daughter during their adolescence? As a father of two boys fast approaching middle school, I am searching for inspiration and instruction in this primary arena of my influence.
It is striking that there are only two father-son duos who both served as president of the United States: John Adams and John Quincy Adams, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Here is an insightful quote I recently read from 41: Portrait of My Father by former President George W. Bush:
“George Bush’s great gift to his children was unconditional love. No matter how we expressed our individuality, no matter how badly we misbehaved, he always loved us. Over time, that love itself became a powerful source of independence. There was no point in competing with our father-no point in rebelling against him-because he would love us no matter what. I took that lesson to heart when I became a parent. When Barbara and Jenna were teenagers, they had independent streaks that reminded me a lot of times past. I used to tell them, ‘I love you. There’s nothing you can do to make me stop loving you. So stop trying.‘”
As a former member, Christian school teacher, youth pastor, and now pastor, I must acknowledge that teenagers truly are “transitional lifeforms.” The key during this metamorphosis from childhood to adulthood is the fixed point of a father’s love that is not affected or altered by their random mistakes or even intentional malice!
Paul adds the instruction in Ephesians 6:4, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” I choose to not provoke. I choose to convey passionate, tenacious love that not only connects my children to me but more importantly to their Heavenly Father whose affection truly is eternal.
What do you find insightful about the above quote from the Bush family? What else has helped you be a consistent, compassionate father of adolescents?