Rootstech 2016 Giveaway (3-Day Pass)

Yes, I’m about to offer a free pass to the 2016 Rootstech 3-day conference. But first I’d like to tell a little story about my last experience with Rootstech.

I’ve been working on genealogy since I was a teenager. It was right after Personal Ancestral File went from low-tech black screen and white (or green, in some cases) words to “high-tech” blue screen with white words. I was just getting my feet wet when I came across some fascinating tidbits.

First, Benjamin Franklin was my great-great-g-g-g-g-g-whatever grandpa (found out later he was actually a g-g-g-g uncle, but still…), and second, that I had royalty in my family line–namely, Prince Hathaway. It was only after much searching that Prince Hathaway wasn’t a prince at all. Prince was his name, and after further misleadings, I learned that Prince was down a different line than mine–that we’d been following the wrong line.

Anyhow, I’ve learned a lot since then, and have come to discover that every person in my family line is fascinating. They were pioneers, shop owners, parents of a dozen kids, farmers, miners, toothbrush makers, people of faith, people of music, people of industry, people of creativity, people of passion, people of faith. Whatever they made of their life, every tidbit of information has become like gold to me.

My first time attending Rootstech a few years ago, I was doing a presentation on self-publishing your family history. The class went well, but the moment things got really interesting was when a man approached me after class and introduced himself to me. He shared my last name, and as I thought about it, I realized we’d conversed online. Kent and I are something like 3rd cousins twice removed–I haven’t figured it out exactly, but Kent was a gold-mine of information about the branch of my family that includes Prince Hathaway (which, I might add, turns out I probably AM related to–it just keeps getting more exciting as we go along!).

Kent had even done DNA testing, visited the birthplaces of our shared ancestors, and spent literally decades in research on the individuals that leave the most mysterious shadows on my family tree. Never could I have expected that.

We actually spoke several times throughout the conference, and both he and his wife Jaelynne were both fascinating and informative to speak with.

I was also interested in the booths representing the plethora of websites, companies, organizations, guilds, and technologies available to family historians and amatuer genealogists.

The beauty of the whole experience for me was the discovery of how many allies we have to our family history efforts. Sometimes the hours behind screens, old books, and endless wanderings up and down aisles and websites can feel quite lonely, but that’s only an illusion. There are so  many people and resources ready to help. There are even people researching branches of your family history already, and never in history has it been easier to team up with them.

Okay, so you heard my story, now you get the goods. I’m excited to announce that I am a 2016 Rootstech Ambassador, which basically means that in exchange for my helping to get the word out about the conference, I get to offer someone a free 3-day pass to Rootstech 2016. So here are the rules:

  • Share this link on your favorite social media (Facebook, Twitter, blog, whatever)
  • Comment here, sharing something about an ancestor of yours.

I’m going to trust you on the first rule, so by commenting about an ancestor of yours, I’ll be assuming that you have shared a link to this contest. The commenters will be entered into a drawing to win. That way you can know how good your chances are by counting the number of comments. If you’re the only commenter, you’ll win by default. Seriously, folks, you’ve got nothing to lose–other than three days of your otherwise boring life to an exciting, fulfilling, fun, and incredible family history experience.

Here’s the real clincher. You have ONE week. The comments will be tallied one week from today (September 21), so get sharing and typing!

I Am Not a “Manly” Man

I have a confession to make. I’m no manly man. I’m sure this confession is no surprise to those who know me well, but others have Manlya hard time accepting the fact.


Point 1: Ixnay on watching sports.

I hate football (I wouldn’t want to play it, let alone watch it). I would rather sit in a silent room with the lights off than sit in a room with sports playing on a screen. By FAR. Blegh. No thanks. That pretty much goes for all sports, but football is at the top of my never-want-to-watch list. Don’t get me wrong, I love physical activity. Don’t challenge me to a dance-off unless you want to lose. I even enjoy a number of sports. But NOT football, and NOT watching someone else have all the fun.


Point 2: I’m no handyman.

Sure, I’m comfortable with power-drill or hammer, but don’t ask me to use it to fix stuff. I usually make things much worse when I try.

I’m constantly visiting the hardware store, but not for the reason you might think. I try so hard to avoid the associates. Not that I don’t think they can help. No doubt they could point me exactly where I need to go. But they always ask that dreaded, satanic question, “So, what are you working on?” DAAAAAAAAHHHHH!

Don’t get me wrong. I totally get their intent. They’re being nice, and it’s a very nice question to ask a manly man.

Ahem…” I start, “Well, see… it’s a… well, it’s kind of a…” and finally, recognizing I’m cornered, and can only make it worse by drawing out the moment, say, “A Marimba—it’s like an African Xylophone,” or “A three-octave pentatonic Native American pan flute,” or, “A didgeridoo with a rainstick embedded inside it.”

Their eyes glaze over, and while they’re deciding whether my words are something that can responded to, I slip away and purchase my supplies.


Point 3: Asking directions

I will GLADLY ask directions. From. Anyone. Still, I do so love my navigation app. Oh, blessed Android!


Point 4: I’m domestic

I enjoy cooking, I do laundry, dishes, clean the bathroom, and grocery shop. And not because I’m “helping” my wife. It’s my job, and I do it. I chose those tasks, and I do them—usually cheerfully. I would FAR rather do dishes, mop the floor, AND scrub all the counters than even open the hood of a car. Which brings me to the next point.


Point 5: I hate cars

There aren’t many things I hate, really. But I’ve mentioned watching sports, home-repair, and explaining my projects to hardware store assistance, but cars—especially fixing cars, tops the lot. If I had to choose between scrubbing the putrescent floors of a hog farm and fixing a car, hand me the scrubber. I long for the day when transporters are invented so I don’t have to get into those ridiculous driving machines again.

And if you ever get in a conversation with me about cars, don’t be surprised if I offer to talk about a more pleasant topic, such as what I discovered in my child’s vomit.


Point 6: I’m a jabber-mouth

I talk. A lot. Just not about cars, football, and home-improvement projects. Actually, I find women a lot more interesting to talk to than men, because they actually talk about interesting things, like gardening, books, child-psychology, cooking, and relationships. If you’re ever in a conversation with me, and you find me a little quiet, it’s either because I’m being genuinely shy, or you’re trying to talk about manly subjects.


Point 7: I LOVE Kids

I’ve always adored kids. The younger the better. I tried for years to get a job working in a day care, but the most common reason they’d give for turning me down was that, straight and simple, I’m a guy. So I got married and grew my own day care.

The Funnest calling I ever had (and the one I would have most enjoyed doing until the day I died) was teaching the Sunbeams.

And yes, I willingly change my kids’ diapers.

Kids Say the Awesomest Things

Having four kids under the age of six is always an adventure. As I type, two are shouting from their bedroom, “Mama, can I go potty?”

How long since they went to bed? Five minutes. Oh, and one of the two hasn’t even started potty training.

Jenni and I pretty much have an ongoing ticker of Hathawayism on our Facebook profiles. Here are a few recent ones:

It’s lunchtime, and Jenni’s getting lunch ready. Tootles says, “I’m impatient, so give me lunch first.”

Why dance around the issue? Just say it straight!

This one was also Tootles:

“Mom, you’re welcome to be my Grandma.” – Tootles (Grandma doesn’t make him do chores)

This next one was while the kids were getting ready for bed a couple nights ago:

Lunch Bucket: Baba, the South Pole is the coldest place in the WHOLE world.

Me: Well, good thing we don’t live there!

Lunch Bucket: If you want to go there, you have to get really warm and only two people can go so they can take care of the penguins.

Yeah, I guess someone’s got to take care of the penguins.

This just in–like really, just in. I almost clicked publish, when I heard this conversation:

Lunch Bucket: If a mouse would bite me, I would be dead

Tootles: You’re being MEAN

Lunch Bucket: You don’t know if there’s a mouse, because it’s dark. Even if there is a mouse, you don’t know. By the time right now, a mouse would be getting me.

I love kids.

My Ancient Heart of a Child, by Federico García Lorca

This is one of my favorite poems. Isn't it beautiful?
My heart of silk
is filled with lights,
with lost bells,
with lilies and bees.
and I will go very far,
farther than those hills,
farther than the seas,
close to the stars,
to beg the Lord Jesus
to give back the soul I had,
my ancient heart of a child,
ripened with legends,
with a feathered cap
and a wooden sword.

-Federico García Lorca

A Response to Erma Bombeck’s Treat Friends, Kids the Same

If You’re Friends and Kids Acted the Same

I once read an interesting article by Erma Bombeck about how we should treat our children the same way we treat our friends—with love, respect, and kindness, rather than harshness. For some reason the disciplinarian has become the default mode for many parents, rather than the loving, understanding confidant. Here’s what Erma said:


On TV the other day, a leading child psychologist said parents should treat their children as they would treat their best friend…with courtesy, dignity and diplomacy.

“’I have never treated my children any other way,’ I told myself. But later that night, I thought about it. Did I really talk to my best friends like I talked to my children? Just suppose…..our good friends, Fred and Eleanor, came to dinner one night and……

“’Well, it’s about time you two got here! What have you been doing? Dawdling? Leave those shoes outside, Fred. They’ve got mud on them. And shut the door. Were you born in a barn?’

“’So Eleanor, how have you been? I’ve been meaning to have you over for such a long time. Fred! Take it easy on the chip dip or you’ll ruin your dinner. I didn’t work over a hot stove all day long to have you nibble like some bird.”

“’Heard from any of the gang lately? Got a card from the Martins. Yes, they’re in Lauderdale again. They go every year to the same spot. What’s the matter with you, Fred? You’re fidgeting. Of course you have to go. It’s down the hall, first door on the left. And I don’t want to see a towel in the middle of the floor when you’re finished.

“’Did you wash your face before you came, Eleanor? I see a dark spot around your mouth. I guess it’s a shadow. How are your children? If you ask me I think summer school is great for them. Is everybody hungry? Then, why don’t we go into dinner? You all wash up and I’ll take up the food. Don’t tell me your hands are clean, Eleanor. I saw you playing with the dog.

“’Fred, you sit over there and Eleanor you can sit with the half glass of milk. You know you’re all elbows with it comes to milk. There now, your host will say grace.

“’Fred, I don’t see any cauliflower on your plate. Have you ever tried it? Well, try a spoonful. If you don’t like it I won’t make you finish it, but if you don’t try it, you can just forget dessert. And sit up straight or your spine will grow that way. Now, what were we talking about? Oh yes, the Gerbers. They sold their house. I mean they took a beating but….Eleanor, don’t talk with food in your mouth. I can’t understand a word you’re saying. And use your napkin.’”

“At that moment in my fantasy, my son walked into the room. “How nice of you to come,” I said pleasantly.

“’Now what did I do?’ he sighed.”


Erma has a great point. We do need to treat our kids respectfully. But there’s something she’s missing. How many two year olds do you know that act like adults?

So let’s try reversing the fantasy. We’ll treat our friends like we normally would, but this time, think about what it would be like if our friends acted like kids.

Fred and Eleanor arrive at the door.

“Hello!” you say, “come inside, you’re just on time!”

Eleanor walks in, but Fred hasn’t noticed that you opened the door. He’s standing in your freshly watered flowerbed pulling the legs off a grasshopper. When he does come it, he leaves muddy Fred tracks from the door to the kitchen table.

“So Eleanor,” you say as you put the green beans on the table, “what did you think of the emergency preparedness fair last week?”

But Eleanor doesn’t hear you. She’s standing on a kitchen chair, leaning forward, banging her water glass on the table shouting, “Ducky! Ducky! Ducky! Ducky! Ducky!” heaven knows how many times.

With everyone around the table, you again thank the couple for coming. “Fred, would you do the honor of giving the blessing on the food?”

Fred wraps his hands around his face and begins chanting something utterly unintelligible that ends five seconds later with a victorious, arms raised shout of, “AMENNNNNNN!”

You start your meal, noticing that Eleanor is only taking potato chips. Grateful she’s enjoying herself, you say, “The chips were on sale today. I’m glad I picked them up. Could you pass them here?”

“NO!” Eleanor shouts, squeazing the bag to her side (you can hear the chips crushing beneath her elbow), “They’re MINE!”

“Uh… well, I just thought Fred might like some.”

You look at Fred, who is happily dropping bread pieces into his milk. At first you wonder where he got the bread, but then you see the bag of muffins from yesterday’s breakfast hanging wide open on the counter.

As you finish your meal, you pull out the cheesecake. “I hope you like cheesecake—I really shouldn’t indulge like this, but I couldn’t resist.”

You are about to scoop a slice straight onto their plates, but now you can see that Fred’s milky muffin concoction is now glopped onto his plate, and he’s pushing it off his plate with his hand.

“I want some!” he shouts.

“Certainly Fred, I hope you like cherry.”

He shoves the whole plate onto the floor, and before you have a chance to offer to clean it up, Eleanor is on the floor scooping the glop into her mouth.

Fred then screams like a girl and leaps off his chair and begins pounding his wife, saying, “It’s mine! No, Ellie! It’s MINE!”

You pull Eleanor away, and go with her into the other room to see if she wants to talk about the problem. Glop covers her hands, leaving brown and white streaks across her brow and eyes as she rubs tears and milk into her eyes.

When she finally calms enough to return to the kitchen, you discover Fred sprawled across the table, feet hanging off the edge.

He looks up and smiles at you with hands, clothes and face entirely saturated in Cherry cheesecake.

Unsure how to react, you just stare as Fred sweeps the last bit of dessert onto the floor. You look over at Eleanor, who simple says, “Uh, oh.”

But you realize she is not referring to Fred as you suddenly catch scent in Eleanor’s direction of a very unpleasant odor.


Recording Imagination

Recording Imagination

Lunch Bucket walked in on me as I was finishing up a recording session today.

“Are you almost done working?”

“Almost. I’ve just been recording some stuff.”

“I want to record my imagination.”


So I hit record and said, “Okay, tell us your imagination.”

After recording, we listened to it, and the rest of the family came to listen. Then Lunch Bucket said, “Squeaker wants to record her imagination, too.”

“Okay,” I said, “Lunch Bucket, you help Squeaker share her imagination.”

So Lunch Bucket then used our tradition baby girl ventriloquist voice and gave Squeakers imagination.

Then of course Tootles wanted a turn, so I got a recording of his imagination, too.

Connecting with Your Teenager

Teen comes out of bedroom. Parent asks, “How’s everything going?”


“How’s school?”


“Is something wrong?”


“Where are you going?”

“Hang out with friends.”

“Be back by eleven.”

No response. Door closes.


Shortly after 12:00, the child comes in the door.


“Where have you been?”

“Hanging out with friends.”

“I asked you to be home by eleven.”

“I lost track of the time.”

“What were you doing?”


“Why didn’t you call?”

“I don’t know.”

“You need to remember when I tell you things.”

“Can I go to bed now? I’m tired.”

Teen goes off to room.


Whether teenagers act like it or not, they want to connect with their parents. They want to feel their love and acceptance, and they want to share their life with them.

Some parents get along great with their teens. But for many, there seems to be an impenetrable wall of disconnect. Some may feel like there is nothing they can do to break the wall of silence and estrangement that stands constantly between them and their son or daughter.

If you find yourself in this situation, recognize that you are not alone. Not only do other parents struggle with this, but your teen is suffering from the lack as well. In a way, you can empathize with what they are going through. They don’t like the wall any more than you do.

When your son or daughter is struggling, it may seem easy to recognize what they are doing wrong, and it’s even easier to tell them what they are doing wrong. But often, rather than fixing the problem, parents damage their relationship with their teen in the attempt to help.

Your ability to help your teen depends on the quality of your relationship. If that relationship is damaged, the teen may run into more trouble than they would have otherwise.

There is a golden key – a one word answer that can solve the problem.


The first step is to recognize your role in repairing the relationship. You cannot expect your son or daughter to start talking more openly or contributing more time to the family – in fact, you can’t count on your teen to do anything different than they have done before. But you can change your attitude, and your behavior. Don’t blame yourself, but take on the responsibility of changing. And if you’re diligent, and your efforts sincere, your teen will likely change their behavior, too.

It’s not that young people can’t repair the relationship they have with their parents. It’s that whoever recognizes the need and feels the desire for change has to take on the full responsibility for change. You must focus on what you can control, and the only person you can completely control is yourself.


What’s Missing?

If your relationship with your teen is in a rut, consider this acronym for what may be missing:

RUT: Respect, Understanding, and Trust. Chances are, one or all of these are lacking between you and your son or daughter. As you begin demonstrating these three things toward your teenager, you may find these attributes reciprocated.



Chances are, both you and your teen have struggled with demonstrating respect toward each other. Your teen might not respect you, but remember, you have to be the one to make the move.

Your son or daughter wants to be treated like an adult, and will respond much more favorably if you talk to them the way you would talk to another adult. Obviously you have to teach them right from wrong, and the consequences of their choices, but don’t preach to them. Share your feelings about what is going on. Share your concerns and help them discover where their choices are taking them, but don’t preach. There is a difference. Share your thoughts, your fears, your needs, and communicate an understanding of theirs.

Remember that no matter what your teen is doing to make things worse, this is not about their problems. It’s about restoring or improving the relationship. Respect doesn’t mean you have to agree. In fact, if your son or daughter’s choices are wrong, you must make sure not to agree, but it also means that you need to validate their views and feelings.



To borrow an analogy from Stephen R. Covey, understanding is like emotional air. Consider your hopes and dreams. Think about what matters most to you – perhaps your family, loved ones, your health and happiness. Now, imagine that while you are thinking about those things, suddenly the air in the room vanishes, and you can’t breath. What do you do?

Obviously, with the air out of the room, you would instantly forget about your hopes, dreams, and happiness. Suddenly all your thoughts focus irrationally around, “I NEED AIR!!!”

Air is to the body as understanding is to a relationship. If there is no understanding, then the emotions lose all sense of reason, and cry out for that one thing above all others. If your teenager thinks you don’t understand them, there is nothing you can do for them. They need understanding before they will listen to anything else you say. You need to rebuild in your teen the confidence that you understand them. That might not be easy, but it is crucial. If they can’t find understanding with you, they will seek it in friends, many of whom will not be the best influence on them.

When you speak to your son or daughter, don’t interrupt. This can be especially hard when your teen is being irrational. You would be irrational too if there was no air the room. They are reaching out for understanding like you would reach out for air. Let them be irrational, just listen. When they do give you a chance to speak, don’t fill it with your thoughts, rather use the opportunity to confirm that you do understand. Say something like, “So you feel that…” and repeat in your own words what they just told you. Then wait for their response. If you understood wrong, let them clarify, and when you get another chance to speak, use it again to make sure you are understanding – completely. If you stay calm and keep all forms of sarcasm out of your words, it might just open the lines of communication between the two of you. Your willingness to listen patiently, even if their words involve criticism or hurtful language, will show your son or daughter that you really do want to understand. Try to discover why they feel the way they do. Don’t jump to conclusions.

Once you get the communication lines open, keep them open. Make opportunities to talk often. Don’t be afraid to talk about the struggles you experienced as a teenager (besides walking uphill to school in -23 Fahrenheit weather), and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable in front of your teen. Saying you’re sorry or asking forgiveness can go a long way in securing understanding between the two of you. You will know the lines of communication are remaining open when your son or daughter begins coming to you to talk.

Making time for talking and playing together can provide a good opportunity for building understanding. This is important whether your teenager is having problems or not, because if they see you as the most understanding person in their life, they will come to you before problems start, and they will talk to you before their friends.

If your teen has a particularly difficult time speaking to you directly about problems they are having, start a letterbox. Any time they have a question, concern, or problem that they need to ask you about, they can write a letter and put it in a letter box. When you read it later, you respond back in a letter. Make it clear when you introduce this idea that you will not speak about issues discussed in letters unless the teen brings it up in conversation. That way they don’t have to worry about your initial reaction. They can take the time to express their thoughts in a way they are comfortable with, and you can respond in a way that they will be comfortable receiving. Just make sure you never break your rule of not confronting them face to face about what they wrote in a letter, or that method of communication is shot forever.



Trust is the glue of any relationship. Without it, even love can’t keep the relationship in tact.

Everything we do either builds or breaks trust.

If your teenager has tuned you out, then whether for good or bad there is more going on in their life than you know about. In the best case, this may just mean you don’t know what’s happening in their school work. In a worse case, there may be drugs, sex, or crime in their life that has been taking place without you knowing it. Obviously in the latter case, there can be some major trust issues to deal with. Yet without trust, your teen will never open up and tell you what’s happening.

Don’t assume trust. You can’t just suddenly pretend your son or daughter is totally trustworthy. You have to rebuild trust. Take the time and energy necessary to rebuild the trust you have in them. If your teen has proven completely untrustworthy, communicate your desire to trust them, and your willingness to work with them to rebuild trust between you.

This doesn’t mean softening or getting rid of rules (unless the rules are unnecessary or unrealistic), but it does mean you need to help your teen understand why the rules are what they are. If they understand that – truly understand it, they will live by the principles whether there are rules or not. Don’t get rid of your rules, just communicate them with love, respect, and understanding. Depending on the situation, you may even have to make more or stricter rules. Just keep the respect, love, and understanding at the forefront of your discussions. If possible, have your teen help you decide on rules, so they will want to be personally committed to them. If they feel that some rules are unfair or unnecessary, negotiate until you come up with some that you are both willing to stand by. Also, have your son or daughter help you come up with appropriate consequences for the violation of the rules. Make sure the rules you decide on serve their intended purpose – to protect the teen, strengthen the family, and work toward the goals of both. Having the teen help decide the rules and consequences of their violation can help the teen take ownership of their actions, which can begin the restoration of trust in the relationship.

As your son or daughter demonstrates trustworthiness, communicate that in everything you do, and give them opportunities to exercise the trust you have in them. Allow them privileges that match their level of trustworthiness. If your teen feels respected and understood in the relationship, they will work to gain your trust.


The Emotional Bank Account

To borrow another Covey analogy, relationships are like bank accounts. When you are kind to someone, keep your word, or do something that they appreciate, it is like you are making a deposit into their emotional bank account. When you do something that they find hurtful, you make a withdrawal.

Just as with a real bank account, if you make too many withdrawals, then the account goes into the negative, and you may build up so much debt that it will take a long time, and a lot of deposits to get back into the positive. If your son or daughter feels that you are deeply in the negative in their emotional bank account, it will take a lot of deposits, a lot of sincerity testing, and a lot of patience to get that account back into the positive. Once it does get back in the positive, understanding can return, and the relationship can be salvaged.

Your teen may have a different idea of what constitutes a deposit than you do. That’s why you have to strive continuously to build understanding with your son or daughter. Also, some deposits and withdrawals are larger than others. If your teen’s emotional bank account is in the positive, and you make a major withdrawal, such as by betraying their trust, then you may go from positive to deep in debt in one quick move. If, however, you are in the positive, and make a small withdrawal, the offense might be easily forgiven.

If you find that you are deeply in debt in your teenager’s emotional bank account, it is going to take a lot of time and work to pull out, and every withdrawal you make is going to severely hinder your efforts to get out of debt. You need to focus your effort on making deposits. Show respect. Show understanding. Be kind. Be gentle. Sincerely compliment, and always, always keep your word. Find out out what love language your teen speaks, and speak it often. If communication is important to your teen, talk to the a lot. If they need hugs, offer them often. If they need compliments and affirmation, give it to them regularly. Don’t assume that your teen communicates love in the same way you do. Find out what means the most to them and pour it on them.


Keep it Real

Your efforts to respect, understand, and trust your son or daughter can’t be considered a technique. We’re not talking about a method to change your teen’s behavior. We’re talking about changing yourself to connect with your son or daughter so you can deeply connect with them, because you love them. Young people are extremely perceptive. If you are trying to improve the relationship in order to save your own reputation or to come across to others as a good parent, your kid will know. If you don’t have a true, deep empathy (not sympathy) for your child, and all they are going through, they will sense your insincerity. Check and double check your motives often. You need to keep working at it until you deeply sense the worth and potential of your teenager as a human being and as an irreplaceable member of your family. The idea is to communicate that worth so clearly that your son or daughter comes to see it too.

If all your efforts backfire, then your teen is probably testing your sincerity. If they feel like you have betrayed them at some point (whether or not you really did) in the past, it’s going to take a lot of deposits, such as patience, empathy, and understanding before they know that you’re for real. What you need to decide is that you will reach out to your son or daughter and be there no matter how much they reject you.

You will probably not have to sacrifice your rank in society in order to reconnect with your teen, but you need to be willing to do so. You probably won’t lose friends while trying to prove your love to your teen, but you need to be willing to if that’s what it takes. Your efforts to reconnect with and understand your teen will probably not hurt your reputation or business, but if you are willing to give those things up, they will sense your true sincerity, and will respond positively. When your teenager realizes how much they mean to you, you may be pleasantly surprised at the things they will be willing to do, like talk, hug, cry, and laugh with you. They want that. They just have to know how badly you want it, too.


Take Interest in Their Interests

One of the quickest ways to connect with someone is to take interest in the things they are interested in. You might not like football, but if your son does, learning to like it might open doors and give you the opportunity to get to know your son in ways you couldn’t have otherwise.

Find out what’s really important to your teen – not just what you want them to consider most important. Again, you don’t have to agree with what you discover, but finding out your teen’s true priorities will help you understand and relate to them better.

To many teens, friends are very important. If your teenager values spending time with friends, then make an effort to get to know their friends – carefully, of course. You don’t want to turn your teen into “the one with the weird parents.” But seek opportunities to get to know your teen’s friends. Consider inviting them over for a pizza party or taking them to ice cream with your son or daughter. Doing so will help you understand the influences that your teen is facing, and will communicate to your teen that you value their friends. When their friends are around, make a special effort to treat your teen with respect. Be sensitive to your teen’s reaction – if they are embarrassed by your presence, tone it down a bit. If they like having you involved in what they’re doing with their friends, then you know you’ve come a long way in connecting with your teen.


Try New Things

If you find that some of your efforts to connect with your teen don’t work or make things worse, try new things. If something is working, keep it up, and if not, try something different. If they are active on the Internet, find out what social networks they are using. Sign up for a Facebook account and become their friend. Try texting positive messages to them on their phone. Try taking them to dinner once in a while. Be creative, be patient, and most of all, never give up. If you are persistent, understanding, respectful, and sincere, you will be amazed at the depth of your relationship with your son or daughter. That friendship is likely to last the rest of your life, and the influence you have will last generations.

Praying for Lindbergh

One of the projects I’m working on is compiling the autobiography of my grandma, Leola Jex Freshwater Curtis, who died when I was 13. She’s a hero of mine, and I’m touched by her writings. She wrote enough stories and letters about her life to fill a book, but never compiled it into one work. I’ve already hit 50,000 words, and there’s a lot more to compile. Anyhow, here’s a sample she shares about the night Charles Lindbergh made his historic flight in a one-man plane. She was a young girl at the time, and was staying with her Grandma, Louisa Watling Jex.


I was at Grandma’s house the night Lindbergh flew across the ocean. I still remember her prayer that night. As she asked a blessing on the food, she also talked to the Lord about watching over this brave boy, alone over the great ocean. “Please help the young flier Lindbergh to get across the ocean in his plane,” she said, “and help him to return safely.”

I can still see the tears rolling down her cheeks. I marveled that she could care so much about someone she didn’t even know.

I felt so sure Heavenly Father would watch over that plane, even if he had to reach down from heaven to hold the plane up in case the pilot got sleepy.

That night Grandma made me a little nest on my side of the feather bed. She always made a little round place just for me, so I wouldn’t fall off the bed and so I would not roll onto her side. Then she explained to me how big the ocean was and told me it had taken three weeks for them to cross it in a boat, and here was this boy all alone with no one to keep him awake. We talked awhile about how hard it would be to guide a plane when it was dark, with no lights, and all that water under him. If he went to sleep the plane would fall in the water, and there would be no one to get him out. He had to stay awake many hours and there was no one there to help him, or to wake him if he got sleepy.
“He’s such a boy,” Grandma said.

Nobody could have been happier than we were when we got the news that Lindy had landed safely. I brought in the paper that showed him getting out of his plane. All the people were crowded around so glad to see him. That night when it was my turn to say the prayer, Grandma said, “Remember dear, to thank Heavenly Father for taking that boy safely across the ocean.”

I remembered. I knew Grandma’s prayer helped him, and the prayers of many others.