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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write something in the YOUNG ADULT or TEEN genre (06/07/07)

TITLE: Guiding Without Riding
By Jacquelyn Horne


I was searching for an envelope when I entered my son’s room. There wasn’t any in the office desk, so I began searching all the likely places to find one. When I opened his desk drawer my eyes fell on an envelope that was dog-eared and somewhat crumpled. Something froze inside me and worry crossed my brow.

I stared at the envelope. Something told me there was trouble in it. I’m not a snoop, but this is my son, and I want what’s best for him. He’s my responsibility. If something is wrong, I need to know. But I didn’t want to know.


My mind went back to a time in my teens. My mother is saying “I am the warden here, and I’m responsible for your welfare. So if you have something you don’t want me to see, don’t hide it in this house, because I am going to look at it. My name is not “Dear Abby” and you have been duly warned!”

I remember when she found them. Those letters I had hidden away. She was putting away some laundry and found them stashed beneath my underwear. I knew she would read them if she found them. I can only blame myself.

I was so embarrassed. The letters were from a girl. Not a good girl. She was being very up-front with her feelings, and I was smitten. She lived a few hours drive from my home, and I had been pestering Mom and Dad to let me go visit her.

But the letters put an end to that hope. I regretted not hiding them in my school locker. But I liked to read them every now and then, and there was not time during school.

I came home from school that day to find mother sitting in the living room. “Son, we need to talk,” she said calmly. When I saw the letters lying in her lap, I knew it was reckoning time.

My mother was a wise woman. She didn’t scold, yell, scream or even cry. She just told me plainly what I was letting myself in for.

“You’re a good Christian boy,” she said. “I know you love the Lord. But if you’re not careful, son, you’ll make the worst mistake of your life with this young woman. You’ll end up being a father before you want to. I know you wouldn’t have to marry, but you would, because you’re a good boy. You could end up spending the rest of your life with a woman you don’t want to live with.”

I hated to admit she was right. But mother usually was. I just sat there without saying anything. When she finally left the room, I felt all the symptoms of betrayal. I was self-conscious, humiliated, frustrated, disappointed, confused, ashamed… I dashed to my room with tears in my eyes and disgrace in my heart. It wasn’t easy dealing with my pride and feeling of rejection. I wanted my mother’s respect. I wanted God’s respect. Yet, I still wanted this relationship. It’s my choice after all! I silently screamed.

Mother never mentioned it again. She had said her piece, and the rest was up to me. I never mentioned it again either, but I finally realized she was right and broke off the relationship.

I made my peace with God and continued my walk with him. It felt so good to not have guilt pursuing me during every church service or when I laid my head on my pillow at night.

To this day, I’ve never been sorry. God has given me a wonderful wife and three lovely children. Early choices are so important. I know that now.


I look at the envelope I now hold in my hands and see the residue inside. I realize that I am the warden now. It’s my duty to protect my son.

As he walks into the room and recognizes what I hold in my hand, I know he is angry.

But I know he is a good boy too. I know he wants the Lord to direct his life, so I whisper a little prayer and say, “Son we need to talk………”


Author's note: Fathers, talk to your teenage sons. But treat them as adults, not children.
“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 KJV

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This article has been read 912 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joy Faire Stewart06/15/07
I like the story...excellent point of view for parenting. Good job of writing for this topic.
Leigh MacKelvey06/15/07
A great lesson for parents and very well written indeed!
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/15/07
Parenting is an awesome responsibility. This story shows that well.
Dee Yoder 06/19/07
Good story. Your title caught my attention, too. Teens can learn from this and so can parents!
Jan Ackerson 06/20/07
Very well-written, and I like the flashback structure. Not sure if it isn't more for adults than teens, perhaps.

Your voice is open, candid, very readable.
Kristen Hester06/20/07
Very well written. This is a great message for parents but I think that a teen would also benefit from it. The would see the parent's POV and learn.
Sara Harricharan 06/20/07
An interesting title and even more interesting piece. I think there's a lot going on and not enough words to get it out. Great job. I'm glad that you tackled this one, the tone was matched just right.
Julie Arduini06/20/07
Great title and message. I think the line about the mother saying her "piece" should have been "peace" but that is quite minor against how well this was written.
T. F. Chezum06/21/07
Very well written. I enjoyed the read. Great job.
Benjamin Graber06/25/07
Jackie, I liked this one. What a great message to remind fathers of the importance of sharing wisdom with their sons!
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/25/07
Jackie, I liked this when I read it previously. It really illustrates your verse well. A free Methodist paper EVANGEL publishes stories like this. I can see it, as well, a good fit for a magazine about Christian parenting. The only suggestion I would make is to say something about having made the same "warden" comment to your son that your mom had made to you.
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/25/07
Jackie, I had liked this when I read it previously. You illustrated your verse perfectly. I think it would fit well in a paper like EVANGEL, a Free Methodist Publication, or in a Christian parenting magazine.
The only suggestion I would make would be to show somewhere that you had make the same "warden" comment to your son.
Betty Castleberry06/25/07
I like the coninuation of the lessons from generation to generation. I think you might be able to punch up the message a little bit more. While it's a very good and important message, it tneds to fall a little flat.
Just a little polishing is all this needs. Very nicely done.
Joanne Sher 06/26/07
This is definitely an excellent message. I think it would work in a Sunday School take-home paper. I agree with Betty's comment, though, about strengthening the message a bit.
Cassie Memmer06/27/07
Nice piece and yes, I too believe you should find a home for it so it can reach more people. Many parents today want to bury their heads in the sand rather than watch and train a child. Parenting cannot be done in a lazy fashion. It takes boldness. Great message.
Loren T. Lowery06/27/07
I, too, find this well written and right on for the sited scripture. The story demonstrates that such lessons and admonitions are timeless. I liked the bond between the parent and child and the real sense of emotions you showed for both.
I wonder if the parent had also warned the son about being the warden over the house and the "talk" could be reinforced with some dialogue from the son. All-in-all, I would say go for the publication - parents do need a template sometimes.