Parenting & The Limits Of Communication

I stared at Love Between The Lines not knowing what I thought I would find but hoping it would just jump off of the page at me.

Stared so hard at the screen I wondered whether it would burst into flame or if my eyeballs would pop out of my head.

Not because I wanted expected or needed either of those last two things but because the first didn’t.

Don’t ask me why I thought a post about romantic love might help provide insight into better communication with a teenager because I don’t know if I know the answer to that question.

Maybe it is because in some ways the romantic communication has been as simple as communicating with the teen and maybe it is because it has been just as hard.

Both have had moments where I knew without question that I was in sync with their thoughts and understood their ideas just as I have been on the other side of whatever fall exists between us.

You know the one that we sometimes find with those we care deeply about.

It is that one that creeps up unexpectedly and instead of feeling like you know exactly what is going on you wonder what the hell just happened.

Because in the time it took to exhale you went from being on the inside of it all to standing on the outside.

Parenting & The Limits Of Communication

It is after midnight and I am sitting here on the other side of that old familiar wall but in a different role than I have been in before.

In that other role I have always had a simple decision, “try to convince her to talk it out” or say it is “time to move on and walk away.”

This is a different sort of heartbreak because it is the kind you don’t just walk away from. It is the one that nags at you because you wonder what the hell happened and how to fix it.

Sure you may look at your romantic involvements and ask the same sort of question but it never bothers you with the same sort of intensity.

These are the moments that are the most taxing because there aren’t well defined boundaries you can rely upon.

Teenagers by definition and nature are more challenging than the little kids they used to be.

More capable and independent they ride a rollercoaster you can see but aren’t given a ticket to ride upon any more.

So you watch and wave, shout encouragement and hope they’ll share enough about their situation to help you help them.

The Raw & Authentic Truth

The few who know me best understand this is…hard.


Flip through the pages and you’ll find the posts where I wrote about teaching moments and how I have done my best to help my children face adversity.

When they fell down I didn’t run pick them up. I waited to see if they were hurt and if they weren’t, I let themselves figure out how to stand up.

I didn’t automatically let them win every game because I wanted them to see what happens when things take a turn and figure out how to deal with it.

But I always paid close attention because learning how to deal with adversity shouldn’t mean crushing their spirit.

It meant being present so that they knew that I was here to listen and to talk. They needed to know dad always has their back and for the most part that has worked beautifully.

They are well adjusted, good students and happy children.

But we all go through our moments and our challenges and my teenager seems to be in the midst of something.

He swears he has told me everything that is going on and that there is nothing else I need to know, but I feel something sitting in the back of his head.

I can seem him working through it and though I truly believe he’ll work it out there is that piece of me that is concerned.

Part of me smiles because even though I sense this piece he is not sharing I recognize it. I see and remember the teen I was and hear a distant voice advise me to relax.

That teenage boy I was is reaching out from the past to promise me all will be fine.

Connections & Poetry

Somewhere in the echoes of the past and future is a girl who opened her heart and soul to me as I did to her.

Part of me feels like I could take out my smartphone and ask Scotty to beam her down to the planet’s surface.

I’d turn my head to the right and see a image shimmering upon the waves and she’d walk out of the waves like Aphrodite coming out of the sea.

I’d tell her everything and hold nothing back. She’d smile, take my hand and we would walk along the water’s edge and all that once was would resume and move from what could be into what is.


Florence & The Machine are singing Shake It Off and I keep listening to her sing about it being hard to dance with a devil on your back and thinking about my technicolor imagination.


Because when I can’t find the puzzle piece to put the puzzle back together or use my tools to fix what is not working properly imagination kicks in.

And that image of there being a devil on my back works because I can feel its claws tearing at my shoulder blades and it is teeth trying to rip out my throat and I am happier because I am ready for this.

I am ready to do battle. I am ready to go to war. I’ll rip it from its perch and beat it to death with my hands.

But the thing is, the beast exists solely in my imagination so the beating I wish to give it lives there too and instead of unleashing my rage and frustration upon it I’ll have to just let it be.


And so I go back to the walk upon the water’s edge and think about what Marlowe’s Passionate Shepherd said to his love and the truth of Dickinson’s comments about words.

The world has always been a place of fire and ice.

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  1. Janine Huldie March 7, 2016 at 7:34 am

    You just said a mouthful here and seriously I am so not ready for the tween or teen years here with my two, but know eventually it is bound to happen and catch up to us still. Just hope I can be as level headed as you are with your kids when that time comes.

    • Jack Steiner March 7, 2016 at 7:37 am

      Hi Janine,

      It is not easy and this kid is testing limits and making me crazier than normal, but it is the job we signed up for so we do what we have to,

      I feel pretty lucky because most of the time it has been pretty easy. This is just a bigger bump in the road than normal. I am sure you’ll be fine when your time comes.

      It helps to be able to remember what it was like when we were their ages.

  2. Larry March 7, 2016 at 5:34 am

    When I read the two lines below, I shook my head in agreement. My oldest is a tween and I see it headed that way (I still get a partial ticket to ride – on occasion).

    More capable and independent they ride a rollercoaster you can see but aren’t given a ticket to ride upon any more.

    So you watch and wave, shout encouragement and hope they’ll share enough about their situation to help you help them.

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