Times and Seasons with Your Sons

12 May

It wasn’t long ago I was a young dad to three very young sons. I’m still a young dad (by my own biased standards). But my boys, they’re not so young anymore – ages 18, 14 and 12.

Recently I shared to an audience of dads of younger boys ages 3-12. Here are some thoughts about the fleeting nature of time and how critical it is to saturate them with your love and attention while you can.

With my 18-year old son, I’m done.

© 2009 Lies Thru a Lens, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

I’m not done being his dad. I’m not done having a rich, continuing relationship with him.

But my opportunity to saturate him with my time and attention is mostly over. For the next decade, and more, my relationship with my 18-year old will be largely dictated by the investments I’ve made in my son with my time.

For dads who invest well in the earlier years, rewards!  A rich, growing walk with a son continues. For dads who have not invested wisely, there will likely be pain. Pain for the son from fatherly absence and failures – and pain for dad that comes with watching a distant son grow further apart.

This doesn’t mean relationship “resets” are not possible. They are. Dads can always do more to be meaningful part of their son’s life. But for dads of 18-year old sons, connecting with them will require a different commodity than shoveling out volumes of time.

My “little” 18-year old boy is now a grown man. Building on our relationship will look different in the future. And I’m excited about how that looks, too.

But as for our father-son relationship as we know it, one chapter closes. And another begins.

With my 14-year old son, it’s game time!

We’re not in the final lap yet. But the checkered flag is near. I have two years (until he turns 16) to invade my son’s life (with his permission). Fortunately for him, going to the park is still fun. Miniature golf outings are easy to score. Bike rides and driveway basketball is too. And so are the summer evening movies at home with the family.

Until he has his own car and his new independence, my son’s life remains largely lived out in my court.

Watching my 18-year old set off for college has me thinking more about my 14-year old son. Each year becomes more critical. I need to prepare him now for the freedoms to come.

At some point before my sons leave home, the household rules fade. My 18-year old has no curfew, no reminders to get up for church, no requirement to park the cell phone downstairs at night. I want them to experience those freedoms in my home first.

For my 14-year old, I have a few years to get him ready. And this will require lots of attention – love, training, correction and discipleship.

I hug my 14-year old as much as he’ll allow. I plant kisses on his forehead (against his wishes). He’s still my little boy, even though he just about stands eye to eye with me.

He has four years before the cap and gown… but in my deep thoughts, I can see that tassel hanging over his eyes.

With my 12-year old son, there’s all the time in the world! 

Father and son learning to ride a bike! from Flickr via Wylio

© 2013 dadblunders, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Not really. But it sure feels that way compared to my other two sons. For Dads of 12-year olds, time is on your side still.

Most dads, if given a moment to reflect, have regrets about the job they’ve done. I have some regrets of my own. I want to father better. I want to do more. I want to love my sons more openly, seek forgiveness more regularly, affirm them more authentically.

Of course it’s never too late to do these things. A 70 year-old dad can still bring tears to a 45 year-old son with love and affirmation.

But remember, time and attention with your son is in short supply – and most abundant when they’re young. For my 12-year old son time is still my friend, not my enemy.

Embrace the season

Whatever season you’re in with your son – embrace it. If your son is a baby, pay attention to those country songs about how kids grow up fast.

Because it’s true.

JEFF ANDERSON speaks and writes about walking with God, with an approach to discipleship that combines scripture and story. He’s the author of two books, Plastic Donuts and Divine Applause. Jeff began his career working as a CPA for a Big Six accounting firm, then became a day trader in the stock market. He now speaks, writes, and consults with churches and ministries. Jeff and his wife, Stephanie have four children. www.DivineApplause.com

3 Responses to “Times and Seasons with Your Sons”

  1. Melinda K.Taylor May 12, 2015 at 15:24 #

    Dads this also goes for your daughters.

    • gdavidboyd May 12, 2015 at 15:35 #

      Absolutely, Melinda. I don’t know this first-hand (with all blue in my family); however, I am positive that you are right. Thanks for reading!

    • Jeff Anderson May 12, 2015 at 17:13 #

      You bet, Melinda… most certainly applies to daughters! My three sons have a younger sister, Autumn (7). So the “Dads and daughters” deserves it’s own article (actually Autumn has her own book dedicated to her – Plastic Donuts 🙂

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