by Danny Harris
My wife, Tammy, and I moved to Little Rock about seven years ago, and we've lived the entire time across the street from 12-year-old Taylor's family. Unfortunately, his mom (Robin) and dad divorced four years ago. Taylor and our son, Jayson, are the same age, and they're good friends.
Last spring, I noticed a load of mulch and a pile of paving stones sitting on Robin's driveway. The next day 12-year-old Taylor and his mom began taking the materials to the back of their house. Curious, Jayson and I went over to see what was happening. We discovered that they were making a patio and putting mulch on their flowerbeds. So, we volunteered to lend a hand. It was a great opportunity to help neighbors and to spend some time with the two boys.
As the paving stones started to take the form of a patio, I began telling Robin about the special father-son "Passport2Purity weekend" I had just completed with Jayson. I explained that FamilyLife's Passport2Purity kit is designed for a dad to take a son, or a mom to take a daughter, on a special weekend to talk about a variety of issues teenagers face, including sex. It is targeted for kids around 10, 11, or 12 years old—right before they hit the teen years.
I said that I would be happy to take Taylor on that same type of getaway if she thought it would be helpful. I suggested taking Jayson along because I thought this would make Taylor more comfortable and that the boys would have a lot of fun together.
Robin responded very enthusiastically to my invitation. Robin said that Taylor's grandmother had a condo near Little Rock that we could use.
The boys' weekend adventure
A couple of months later, the boys and I were off on our one-night weekend adventure. We made some special memories as we walked down a hill to a donut shop, went swimming, played miniature golf, ate pizza while watching a football game on a widescreen TV, and went fishing. (Taylor was the only one who caught any fish!)
With all of this activity, we still had plenty of time to listen to the Passport2Purity messages (by Dennis and Barbara Rainey) and to talk about them.
We had a lot of conversation about choosing friends wisely, what good friends look like … and how to be a good friend. There were discussions about relationships with young ladies and how to treat them.
Taylor was very inquisitive when I talked about his relationship with Jesus Christ. As he asked questions, I deferred them to Jayson to answer. This drew Jayson in and let him know that he was an important part of the weekend. It did me a lot of good to hear Jayson verbalize some things—to hear what my son understands about his faith. And it showed Jayson the importance of engaging with someone else and giving away what you have.
After the weekend, I told Taylor that I wanted to be involved in his life—that I didn't want him to think that our time together was just a one-time thing. I asked him to come to me with questions, or comments, or complaints, or whatever he has. And I feel good knowing that Robin can review Taylor's Passport2Purity workbook with him.
I mentioned the Passport2Purity weekend to a Sunday school coordinator at my church. She was interested because a poll of our sixth grade Sunday school students revealed that their parents are still one of their most influential sources.
I think it would be great for men to look for God-given opportunities in their churches to mentor preteen boys who don't have fathers at home. I believe single moms would welcome their support and that it would go far in affirming a young man whose father is absent from his life. It's hard enough today for a mom and a dad to raise a teenage boy together. It's so much harder for a single mom, like Robin. Father power is just built into who we are as men—that's the way God designed it.
Tammy and I received a note from Taylor's mom after the boys' weekend adventure. She said:
Thanks so much for including Taylor in your recent adolescent weekend. I know he enjoyed himself and that it made an impact. I'm so very thankful and blessed to have such positive male role models available. You and your family will always hold a very special place in our lives.
We were humbled by her words. We trust that the Lord used the Passport2Purity Weekend to build lasting convictions into two boys. We pray that Jayson and Taylor will be lifetime friends who grow into men of godly character.
This article appeared in The Family Room in January 2006.
Copyright © 2005 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
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