To an aspiring tennis player, the dream is Wimbledon.
To a 260-pound, muscled-up linebacker, it's the Super Bowl.
To a perfectly pitched vocalist, it's the center stage on Broadway.
Whatever your teenager's dream, God has wired him or her for a unique future full of possibilities. As a caring parent, you play a vital role in life's most fulfilling and rewarding arena – helping to shape that dream and make it come true.
To one family in Missouri, "dream building" is helping their daughter publish and distribute 30,000 copies of a book she wrote at age 4 and illustrated at age 7 – a book telling the world about her grandmother's heroic faith.
To another family in Texas, dream building meant patching up the broken heart of their son – ridiculed for being big and clumsy – and launching him into Division I football greatness.
Some parents, like a single mom in the Midwest, build dreams alone. Arising before the sun comes up, she ferries her 17-year-old daughter in a minivan to a local swimming center and naps until dawn in the backseat. Then she works an eight-hour shift as a school nurse to get food on the table.
In orchestras, art shows, science fairs, basketball courts and hockey arenas, insightful moms and dads are spending the greatest years of their lives developing their kids' God-given gifts and talents. They do it in a careful, hand-in-hand, side-by-side process that allows their teens to grow a dream from conception to celebration. Over mountains of acclaim, through lonely valleys of discouragement, and along winding trails of discovery, these dream builders and their dreamers travel one of life's most rewarding roads.
For these parent-teen teams, the "pot of gold at the end of the rainbow" is much more than a letter jacket, a state championship ring, a straight-A report card or a perfectly executed piano recital. As good as those short-term fulfillments are, the never-ending satisfaction comes from building the parent-child relationship, teaching a valuable work ethic and deepening your teen's faith as he or she explores ways to serve God.
After navigating that extraordinary highway with four teens of my own and assisting some 20,000 young dreamers each summer in our 10 sports camps, I can tell you this without a shadow of doubt: The time you, as a parent, invest in becoming a dream builder, helping your child discover his or her unique wiring, will be one of the most cherished investments you'll ever make.
Parents everywhere are doing that every day. You can, too.
Adapted from Wired by God: Empowering Your Teen for a Life of Passion and Purpose by Joe White with Larry Weeden, Copyright © 2004, Tyndale House Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.