Be ready dad. When those chances come to spend time with your teenager, don’t miss ‘em.

Roy has a thirteen-year-old son named Sam. As you might expect with a father of an early teenager, satisfying connection times are hit-and-miss.

But recently Roy had a breakthrough. He was up in the middle of the night during a loud thunderstorm, making sure everything was secure, and ended up falling asleep on the couch. Very early in the morning, after the storm had passed, Sam came down and woke up his dad. “Hey, Dad, can we go outside and watch the sunrise?”

It turns out, for several weeks, Roy had been leaving very early to go to the office, and it became clear that his son had been missing him on those mornings. So that morning—before the rest of the family woke—the two of them watched the sun come up, tossed a football around, then cooked up some oatmeal for breakfast.

Several days later Roy suggested that he and Sam go hit tennis balls. Now, almost every day when Roy walks in the door after work, Sam asks, “Dad, can we go play tennis?”

Roy is taking advantage of this window of opportunity—when his son is eager to spend time with him, and when Roy himself feels a little bit like he needs to make up some time with Sam.

You know, a three- or four-year-old is always eager to play and do things with his dad, but that eagerness doesn’t last. So, dads, we have to be watchful and ready to jump when those times do come.

I know, not very many teenagers—nor many dads—are eager to get up at six o’clock in the morning to watch the sunrise. But—I promise—if you stay involved, you’ll get your chances. Sometime this week, your teenager may need you to go to the store, or need you to help with the car, a stubborn tool, or frozen computer.

Be ready, dad. Those experiences—tossing the football, watching a sunrise, cooking a meal together—will create positive lasting memories … for you and for them.

Believe me, both of you will need those good times to think back on as you navigate the ups and downs that often come during the teen years.

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