Affirmation Is Never Too Extreme

Written by Dan Seaborn on . Posted in Local

dan seabornI remember a night when one of our sons was sixteen-years-old and had told us that he would be home by 10:00. At 10:10, he was nowhere to be seen, and I was starting to get nervous. With every second that ticked on the clock, I worried more and more.

The typical parent, I assumed the absolute worst. I wonder how bad the accident was. Which hospital would he be in? I hope the other kids weren't hurt too.

Concerned, I dialed his cell phone. He answered right away, to my relief. Keeping my voice calm, I addressed the situation. "Son, it's a little later than you said you'd be home. Where are you?"

He hesitated. "Do I have to tell you?" he asked.

My heart jumped inside my chest. Oh, no. It's even worse than I thought.

This was it. This was The Call people talk about, the one where your kid tells you the worst news you could possibly think of, and when it's over you don't even have the strength to pick yourself up off the floor.

This was when he'd tell us that an innocent prank had gone awry, and now he was sitting on a prison bench next to some guy named Butch, with a $3 million bond and mug shots to boot. Or he'd eloped with a girl he met at a rest stop, and now they were driving to El Paso together. Or...

A new gray hair sprouted. "Yeah, you have to tell me," I said.

"Dad," he began, "you and mom do so much for me, and you guys provide so much stuff for us kids— "

Oooh. Compliments? I thought. This must be really bad.

"—so," he continued, "I just felt like I should stop and fill mom's car up with gas, since she let me use it tonight."

There was a long pause. I had expected that I wouldn't know how to respond to his news, but I barely had a clue what to do with that one. Talk about picking yourself up off the floor!

I finally found my voice, and I profusely thanked him for being so thoughtful. I was so impressed that I even told him he could stay out later if he wanted. Our call ended well. (On one end, two gleeful parents danced around the kitchen.)

Two days after that, I showed up at my son's school and asked to have him called down to the office. When he walked into the room and saw his dad standing there, anxiety spread all over his face. His eyes widened, and I could see he was racking his brain over what he might've done wrong.

"Son," I said, my voice firm, "put your books away, grab your stuff, and come out to the car. We're driving to the Palace."

He instantly knew what I was talking about, and at that, he started screaming. Literally, screaming and running down the hall, interrupting classes all the way to his locker. We were going to see his favorite NBA team, the Sixers, go up against Detroit that night. He had wanted for weeks to go to the game, and now he was going to get the chance.

As the two of us made our way to Motor City, I took some time to talk with my son. "I want you to know," I told him, "we're on this trip because I saw you grow in responsibility."

"Thanks, Dad," he said. A sheepish grin covered his whole face—it was the kind of look a dad can never get tired of.

I realize that when my son filled up his mom's gas tank, it was a small action. I realize it got an extreme reward. But as I watched his confidence surge the night of the big game, I was glad he'd been affirmed.
Author Information
Dan Seaborn
Dan Seaborn is the founder of Winning At Home, Inc., an organization designed to assist and encourage people of all ages and stages of family development. As a featured speaker at churches and large-scale events such as marriage conferences, corporate functions, and university assemblies, Dan Seaborn has earned recognition as a powerful and passionate communicator. Through practical illustrations and memorable real-life examples, he encourages individuals and families to lead Christ-centered homes.

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