Neil & i had a good conversation over some smartie ice cream the other night.
He made the observation that sometimes parents (in this context, teens, or older children) - don't want to ask questions about the mistakes that they notice their children are making. He said that he wants to be the kind of dad who can say to his child, "Hey, i've noticed this in your life, what's up with that?"
He said he doesn't want to be so afraid of finding out the "horrible truth" that he lets his children slip away.
It reminded us of his dad's reaction when Neil told him i was pregnant for the first time. Neil was only 18, still living at home - he called his dad up to his room & told him what was going on. Later, he told me his dad's reaction... He sat there for a moment & then asked quietly, "Well, son, what do *you* want to do?" When Neil told him that he loved me & wanted to marry me... (i can only imagine how this all felt to his dad...) - his dad said, "Ok, then - let's make this right."
There is no way he could have or would have let his dad in if they didn't have that relationship already in place. A relationship that was built through quiet mornings before work in front of the fireplace, notes written to his boys after they were in bed, a love that went beyond their imperfections & their rebellion.