What if the boy holds a strong faith in the free gift of Christ’s salvation, and his father does not? What if the boy recognizes a mercy and forgiveness that his dad rejects? The father wants to teach survival, to make his boy aware of the dangers in the world, to hammer home the message that a man earns his own way.
I don’t want to paint the picture of a man who is entirely wrong. Each has something of value to share with the other. The father’s lessons are logical and easy to justify and he truly wants the best for his son. In fact, the boy needs to absorb much of this to achieve full maturity, but he must find a way to choose what is right from a barrage of harsh and negative flak.
By what method do each of them wield influence?
The grown man has physical strength, a lifetime of experience, and parental authority behind him, but he’s missing the greatest gift and his son knows it. The boy recognizes a spiritual void and wants to see it filled. How does he assert his influence on a grown man? In his youthful innocence, how does he share compassion and grace with a man filled with bitterness?
Jesus sent out his disciples, saying, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” In my novel, a son engages his father in a story game that they play during their commute, and in the game they find a common ground to act out their world views. Through that conflict, an opportunity comes for the boy to assert his influence.
For good or for bad, children do influence their parents. How many parents have found that to be true in their lives?