I have three sons. All are now out of the house with one in college and two pretty early in their careers. I remember when they were “all knowing”, “bulletproof” teenage boys. Remember those days? Trying to offer fatherly advice and counsel was always a challenge!
Let me share something that really worked well for me with them. I started writing my sons letters. These letters were often given on special occasions like birthdays, graduation or Christmas. They were mostly praising my sons, with advice on some of the issues they might be facing.
I think my best letters focused on the book of Proverbs and picked out specific verses that I believed spoke to the life issues my boys were wrestling with at the time. For each verse, I added my own commentary. I also included examples of my own struggles when I was a teenager.
On one particular occasion, I wasn’t sure what they would do when they got what ended up being longer letters than I intended. Would they speed read through them and toss them aside or conveniently ignore them? Their reactions amazed me. They each carefully read their letter, and were visibly touched. As they finished, each son got up and hugged me.
From time to time, I hear them refer to those letters and what was said. What those letters did was allow me to offer them advice from God in a non-judgmental way that was focused on their individual lives. Afterwards, I found the areas that I had highlighted to be less off-limits for discussion. The letters had broken the ice. They saw my heart in the advice I was trying to impart. I was able to be transparent and admit my own imperfections as well as share my experiences with them. And they knew that their Dad had also struggled as a teenager.
If you decide to write letters to your loved ones, I would highly recommend you get the book “Letters from Dad”, by Greg Vaughan to help you navigate through the process. Coach Clay has several copies at the church. The book talks you through all kinds of letters to loved ones that can have a significant impact on your relationship with them.
Take the plunge and pick up the pen!
Coach Glenn Gilchrist
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