I just heard the news that my daughter's boyfriend, Peter (or 'Pierre' as we refer to him) asked Emily to do the honour of becoming his wife. This wasn't a surprise to us, as he had done the “right thing” and discussed the proposal with Lucy and I a month ago.

To Peter's credit, he orchestrated a beautifully romantic proposal, with a Hot Air Balloon and Champagne Breakfast in the Hunter Valley Wine Region north of Sydney. Romantic. Sweet. And I dare say, both of them will be floating on cloud nine for some time.

As a father, and soon-to-be father-in-law, I'm again a n00b. My first time with daughter's marriage. Inside I still feel like a teenager, trying to make sense of the world.

On the outside I'm supposed to be a responsible (sic) adult. Wise and experienced 😀 But I still don't presume to give advice. My daughters are all figuring things out on their own. Just like we did.

But if Em was to ask me for a word or too, there is one humble suggestion I'd make:

“Love is a Verb!”

It's not about being “in love” (noun). It's about choosing to love. (verb) Every. Single. Day.

That's it.

This is a partnership.

Some days there'll be smooth sailing in glistening waters with a tail wind. Some days it may be a grind, heading into the wind. Some days you'll face storms, battening everything down, taking off the sails, and fearing whether you're even going to make it through. Every day will take work. There will always be sails to set, meals to prepare, steering the boat.

You will also need to navigate. To occasionally check the weather, the charts, and figure out where you want to go. Then keep a constant check that you're on track to get where you want to given the environment and weather.

But you choose to do this together. As one complementary organism. You choose to spend your time and money serving each other.

When the bad weather comes, and it will; when you're in a marina and there's a more tempting choice, and there will be; you choose to invest yourself in your partnership.

That's it.

I'm naive enough to wish Em and Pete the very best for their future in the “happy ever after” sense. Of course, which father wouldn't wish that? I'm practical enough to know that if they choose to love, despite what they're feeling, rather than because of it, they will make the best of it.

No matter what life throws their way.

How To Win Your Teenagers Heart Before It’s Too Late

If you consider that you probably start reading bedtime stories to your youngster when they’re about 6 months (ok – some of us started reading to the ‘bump’ but bear with me) and you’re likely to end at around 6 years old when you transition to listening to them read to you; that works out at just on 2000 bedtime stories.

Every one you miss, is gone forever…

Whilst I can tell my teens stories, and when camping or sometimes around the dinner table I get to. I can’t replay the 3 weeks of reading bedtime stories I missed because I was preparing a sales proposal, or was entertaining my boss.

And yes, from an educational PoV, I can play them MP3’s or CD’s. Yet all the studies show that kids listening to a recorded story simply don’t do as well as those whose parents read to them.

That’s because it’s not about the story. It’s about the relationship.

Relationships are messy, organic, not task driven. This isn’t a check-box to tick off. Sometimes it’s a quick retell at a friends house before putting them down in the spare room. Sometimes it’s 3 stories and a bunch of interminable questions. Sometimes it’s laughing so hard milk comes out your nose. Sometimes it’s just laying quietly listening to music together.

So take off your watch, & slow down to their time. This allows you to build that deep relationship that lasts into their teens. It allows them to ask you the questions they’re pondering. It builds the communication channel for them to come to you when they’re confused, or scared, or hurt, or anxious, or elated through the turmoil of adolescence. And like a plant, this channel doesn’t magically appear. It takes years of nurturing, careful watering, occasional pruning, constant praise, and the sunlight of love.

Even then you only get 10% of the relationship with your 13-18 year old that you had with your 3-8 year old. There’s no such thing as quality time without quantity time first.

So despite what you think, your priority is to enjoy as much time with them as you can.

Oh, and it’s for you too. The thing I miss most about my grown-up daughters are the bedtime stories I sacrificed for projects and study. On balance I’ve forgotten more about Windows for Workgroups than I ever needed, but every investment of time with my daughters has repaid 100-fold.

Magical times.

If they’re already teens, make stories together…

…a topic for another night!