My son and I went for a walk today. He’s 13 years old and finishing a great 7th grade year.
We are both walking through a transition of sorts. He’s about to embark on some major changes in his life ahead. If you’re reading this, chances are, you were 13 once too. Life is beginning to get complicated. Relationships are going to start to get a little tricky to navigate. Personality begins to change, and body chemistry is a whole new cosmic exploration.
I’m also embarking in a new journey of my own. There are relationships ahead that are going to begin to get a little complicated. There are some things we are going to have to navigate through that we haven’t yet seen on this road of parenting our kids. As my wife and I share our hearts with one another, and our kids continue to grow, we strive to make the tracks of our lives converge into one another, rather than split away from one another.
The easiest thing to do when we disagree with one another, or with our kids is to yell and scream at one another trying to make sure that the other one hears how passionate we each are about our own opinion. But, over the years, we’ve found that this causes more distance than proximity and it just raises our blood pressure, but doesn’t seem to ever accomplish it’s intended goal. What was the intended goal? We are actually striving for bringing our family closer together… so we stop the conversation and remind one another (maybe not often enough) that we are on the same team, working together, not trying to out-do one another.
Sometimes my wife, or I will remember to say to one another, or to our kids, “Would you like to try that again? I’ll give you a second try at what you just said, if you’d like to say it in a little different tone.” Sometimes this is the track control switch mechanism we all need that drives our conversations along the same rails rather than splitting them up sending them in various directions. Ironically, the track splitter can send two trains onto parallel tracks and one might think this is a good reprieve for a while, but inevitably the tracks will split further and further apart sending conversations into various destinations. We strive for conversations that converge.
As we transition into a new era of parenting, we are learning to listen. Our lives are becoming a little more colorful as we walk these rails together. There’s some amazing scenery along the way too. I remember being 13 years old and facing the challenges of new friendships, awkward feet, funny voices coming from my throat, and feeling out of place more often than ever feeling like I fit in with the right kind of crowd.
What is this awkward life we live? Many have gone this way before, and though the tracks on the journey may even appear to be a bit rusty, one thing I know… we are not alone. Many have traveled these ways, and many have felt as blind as we feel being parents of new teens, but there is fantastic hope for the journey.
The hope is found in God’s living Word. He reminds me in the Scriptures not to worry. He tells us through Jesus in Matthew’s gospel, chapter 6, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
I walked the rails of an old train track today with my son. I’m walking the rails of life with him as a new teen, just as he is walking the rails of life with me as a dad of a new teen. Both of us are on a new adventure. Our lives are striving for convergence, though we are two completely different people. We are longing to walk with one another as far as we can until the rails of the journey begin to grow distant taking him in a new direction, which developmentally is a good thing. Until then, we are striving to journey together, enjoying the colors along the way.