If you have ever flown on an airplane, you know that the pilot has a very detailed pre-flight check list to go through prior to departure. Things aren’t just left to chance that people will remember every safety feature that needs to be done. This is a good thing, right? After all, who would want to fly on an airplane that only had a 95% chance of making it to its destination? Sometimes we get frustrated waiting for departure because quite honestly we have become the generation of now. Everything is at our fingertip with a cell phone and if it doesn’t pop up in a fraction of a second we are disgusted with the service provider.
The thought struck me one day that I am going through a sort of a pre-flight check list with my sons. One is starting college and the other will be a junior in high school this year. As their dad, I’m am getting them ready for departure someday. This is no easy task, you see, because there is NO check list. Sure there are lots of books and resources, even other dads, where I can (and do) turn to for advice. The problem with that thinking is that each of my sons are completely unique. It amazes me sometimes just how different they can be. They have both come from the same parents and have grown up under the same roof yet they are completely different. The difficulty with parenting advice is that it is either generalized for the masses or specific to another’s experience. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t nuggets of wisdom to be gleaned from these sources. What it means is that I have to really know my sons’ personalities. Like knowing when the engine doesn’t sound quite right.
I’m not going to lie, there are days that this task seems completely overwhelming to me. It’s a mountain of responsibility heaped on my shoulders, and I don’t always respond in the right way. I grow impatient. I get frustrated. I get angry. I regret these failed attempts at unconditional love. The truth is that my sons are also helping me to grow up. They are teaching me patience and what is really important. They are teaching me relationship is above all things.
So there is no list with boxes to check. There is no formula because there are too many unknown variables (see there is a use for algebra). These are the tough years also, where they think they are already adults. They are impatient for departure. So taking advice from ol’ dad isn’t always received as though it was born from my deep love for them. It’s hard not to withdraw sometimes. But that isn’t an option. I must engage them whenever and however I can. I don’t want to let them depart from my house with a 95% chance of making it. My prayer: “Lord help me to be the father that You need me to be for them”