May 29, 2020
“Reflections of The Stress Bubble Past”
Footballs and Tree Tops
I was sitting on an Adirondack chair on my front porch moments after finishing a bike ride when I heard it. Springtime in Oregon involves green fields, blooming trees, and chirping birds. The sound came from the direction of our Morning Blaze Maple, and I knew instantly what it was—a football.
Circa 2008 Colton punted a green Nike football into the treetop while we played in the yard. It remained there from the time he was 10 until now that he’s 22. Two weeks later it’s still there. I tear up every time I walk by it, a gross mnemonic device that my boys are now men. I should be excited, but I find myself mourning the loss of their childhood. Why am I unwilling to accept what I thought adjusted to years ago?
Time was at a standstill while they were boys, when life was filled with the chaos of the Stress Bubble. But the house is much quieter now and time races by.
Job’s Daughters, And Sons
On a much lesser scale, I’m beginning to understand what Job felt when he lamented about when his children were alive, “Oh that I were as in months gone by, as in the days when God watched over me; when His lamp shone over my head, and by His light I walked through darkness; as I was in the prime of my days, when the friendship of God was over my tent; when the Almighty was yet with me, and my children were around me” Job 29:3-5.
Unlike Job, my sons are still with me, alive and well, and all within an hour drive. This leads to a bigger question, “How do I connect with my adult sons to continue our strong bond of love and trust? As my sons navigate through their mid-twenties and make major life choices, I am learning several things. Check out our most recent podcast with Robert Lewis and his insights on how to raise a modern-day knight.
Rats and Fishes
For the past five years my sons and I have headed to a close friend’s ranch in Eastern Oregon to hunt turkeys. This year we diversified our efforts with fishing, camping, and shooting the famous Sage Rats of Eastern Oregon. Our second day included dozens of rats shot, a red hawk dive bomb, three limits of trout, deer, elk, snakes, a turkey, a rare mountain lion sighting, star gazing, a near alligator attack (ask Darby), and more S’Mores that I’d like to admit. It was epic and bonded us more in three days than words could explain here.
Not so Secret Ways to Connect
Our recent trip got me thinking about how Shanna and I maintain a close relationship with our sons and their significant others. Check out our recent past blogs about ways to connect with your children.
1. Form a Thread. A simple yet proud way to have ongoing conversations with your children is simply to create a text thread. This is mandatory for any parent to connect with their children. Our thread never stops and includes questions, Bible verses, memes, videos and has been paramount to ongoing connection. I recommend texting although Messenger and Telegram are other great mediums.
2. Sink deep roots. Job stayed close to his children. He lived in proximity to them. We will probably live in Oregon for the rest of our lives. Why? Our children live here. The transient lifestyle is not what we see in the Bible, not how Jesus lived, and not the best play to connect with your adult children. Be the anchor that your children need as they grow and raise families of their own.
3. Build traditions. The annual Eastern Oregon Rat Race Weekend is engraved in stone. So much so, that Shanna is planning her weekend with our sons’ significant ones already. Traditions are a powerful thing that we often set apart only for the holidays. As your children become adults, dream of new ways to connect with them. Build positive ones before someone else builds them in your place.
4. Carpe holiday. Seize the off holidays. Bring your family together on Labor Day, Memorial Day, President’s Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, and more. Search for opportunities to connect, but you must plan ahead so your adult children can save the date. Chances are you’ll need to beat their friends to the punch.
5. Seek their advice. Lastly, this is what I learned this weekend. My sons are intelligent adults with college degrees. They have wisdom (usually) and knowledge that I may not have. They know more about many things than their old man and that’s okay. Isn’t the goal to put our children on our shoulders anyway? Seeking their advice won’t make you weaker. But it will make you wiser. If you’ve done your job as a parent, your children should exceed you in various areas. Be humble enough to ask for and accept their input.