As he walked in the door he was met with unexpected gifts. The two teenaged boys along with their girl friends presented him with matching accessory sets. A pocket watch, a pocket knife and a key ring were in each box. He was shocked. Having never spent a Father’s Day with them, or me for that matter, he was baffled by the generosity of his grandsons.
My son had to work most of the day Father’s Day. He went in too early to make it to church and get back on time. He worked through lunch as well but made it home just in time for dinner. As he tried to unwind, Elly woke up. His first child, his daughter, Elly is only seven weeks old. This is his very first Father’s Day as a DAD!
I fit right between them, one my father one my son. I cannot remember ever having spent a Father’s Day with my dad and well, since it’s my son’s first Father’s Day, I have never spent one with him as Dad.
Three things strike me from the course of our day together.
1. Family traits are more than exposure
My older sister made a six hour round trip drive to spend Father’s Day with us. When we were all together it was clear we all have the gift of gab, a high level of intellect and we are passionate about what we believe. It is evident these traits have been passed down somewhat epigenetically since my father and I haven’t spent more than a few hours in each other’s company in more than 44 years. Yet his tendencies are evident in both of my sons.
2. Behavior is learned and modified by constant exposure for better or worse
“The girlfriends” are raised in different home environments than we maintain. Negativity in language, insults, crude joking are common place for them. We work very hard to model positive conversations in our home but it is a constant battle to overcome the language of movies, music videos, video games, coworkers and especially close friends like a girlfriend. Most social observers will tell you it takes 17:1 positive words or ideas to negative ones to win the battle. Keep talking and thinking positively.
3. Love covers a multitude of mistakes
My Dad seems a bit cautious to engage fully in the relationship of family to the level our household does. We talk openly about relationships, failures, mistakes and celebrations. We acknowledge our own pasts and heartaches but we love right through it. I realize some families are closed about mistakes. I understand some families want the world to believe they are perfect. I can appreciate the question a friend encountered on social media recently. She was asked by a hurting single mother who had recently endured divorce if the marriage everyone reads about on Facebook is real or just the story they tell. Ouch!
So here we are, a small, broken family trying to rebuild the brokenness, make up for lost time and love in spite of ourselves. We treasure transparency. We crave consideration. We exercise patient persistence. We hold on for dear life to family. In the end, they may be all we have left.
While parenting your teenagers, remember to LOVE IN SPITE of all their temper tantrums, missed expectations and disrespect. They are learning to be adults and they will learn best from you – for better or for worse.
J Loren Norris is an International Leadership Speaker and Vlogger. You can subscribe to daily videos here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/j-loren-norris/id1248667226