Sometimes it's okay just to sit and watch a movie together. You could go fishing somewhere or take blankets and go out and see the stars in the middle of the night. You may see a meteor shower. These connections are manufactured times and they just don't happen automatically. Come up with a list of ideas that you've got to make happen for that special time with your child -- even when they don't want to do it. Build up to it, "Tomorrow, we're going to do this," and then make sure you do it, without fail.

Right the Wrong

Dads can be great at checking out or avoiding issues. They can boil, stew, hold a grudge, and allow unresolved issues to destroy their relationship with their child; or, avoid conflict by compromising their standards. Then there are those who cover up problems by overindulging their kids…deflecting the problem temporarily and causing even more problems in the future.

But dads can also be pretty good at correcting their own errors if they put their attention to it. If you've not been the dad you know you should have been, will you take responsibility for steering your home in the right direction, fostering positive emotions and mutual respect? Start by identifying where you have been wrong, and seek forgiveness from those you have offended.

I recently witnessed an entire family break down and sob when the father asked each member to forgive him for his failures. He repeated his request with intensity and emotion. It was a humble, sincere apology, and a good step toward healing the resentment of his children. Every heart in the room melted and it was a new beginning for that family.

Dad, let me urge you to not despair and certainly not to quit. Instead, choose to have an honest conversation with God about your struggle, just as your teen should be able to have with you. Ask Him your questions, and tell Him how you feel. He, too, is a Father. Ask Him what you are supposed to learn and what you should do to make things better. Be okay with life not always making sense.

Celebrate being needful of God's care. Our Heavenly Father shines best when our life is a mess, and I hope you'll be your best when your teen needs you.

Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and executive director of Heartlight, a residential program for struggling adolescents (www.heartlightministries.org). Mark's books and tapes can be found at www.markgregston.com


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