You'd rather swallow glass than ask your parents for advice, let alone actually take it. But other people's parents, anyone else's, seem so much more insightful. Maybe it's because you get the input without the "I told you so."

With that in mind, we eavesdropped--or in this case "e-dropped"-- on some e-mail messages from a dad to his daughter. And we don't have to tell him if his advice just happens to come in handy.

Adapted from " e-mail messages to my daughter" by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz, copyright 1999, Promise Press, an imprint of Barbour Publishing. From: Dad
To: Linsdey
Subject: Encouragement
Message: I had a few more thoughts since our phone conversation last night. I know you are looking for ways to be an encouragement to your friends during this tough time for her. A little encouragement can make the big difference. It doesn't take much: maybe only a few words or a small act of kindness. It might not seem like much to you, but it could be really meaningful to her. Whenever you encourage others, you are showing that you have care and concern for them. Few things in life are so easy to give and have so much impact. God wants her to be encouraged. You may be the way he is intending to do it. He can use your arms to embrace her. He can use your voice to speak to her. Knowing how to be an encouragement to someone else can be tricky. Sometimes people need a word of encouragement that will challenge them. You might need to shake them up a little bit. Other times, they need a word of comfort and kindness.

The distance between a kick in the pants and a pat on the back is only a few vertebrae, but this isn't a matter of their physiology. It's a matter of your sensitivity. You have to be sensitive about what you say and when you say it.

One final suggestion: Make sure you say and do something. Your good intentions are meaningless unless you put them into action. Don't be so worried about how you can encourage her that you fail to do anything at all.

You're a good friend. I know you have her best interests at heart, and she knows that, too. Pray for God's wisdom and love and then trust your instincts. Say and do what is in your heart. She'll be glad you did (and so will you).


To: LindseyFrom: DadSubject: Common SenseMessage: Mom filled me in on some of the details of your adventure. I'm glad you had lots of fun (and I'm relieved to hear that there were no teeth, toes or eyeballs scattered over the freeway). While I'm on the subject of you doing crazy stuff that could be a little dangerous--(do you like that smooth transition into "fatherly advice" mode?)--let me say this: Much of what you need to learn will not come from books. It happens outside the classroom. It is the process of learning how to use common sense. Believe me, you will need to rely on common sense and good judgement much more in life than what you will learn in your world civilization class (assuming you've been attending your world civ. class).

I know that you have a good dose of common sense, but I worry that sometimes you are having so much fun that you forget about using it. Since I can't always be there with a gentle reminder, here are seven simple questions you can ask yourself before you start your next "adventure":1. Is it safe? Here is a clue. If it involves handguns, juggling chainsaws or driving blindfolded, you may want to reconsider. 2. Who came up with the idea? If the person has recently been arrested, expelled or hospitalized, you may want to spend a few additional moments in contemplative reflection. 3. What's the worst thing that could happen? Think through all possible scenarios. If any of them involve obituaries, CPR, police lineups or calling me for money, then do it another way. 4. How will the newspaper headline read? If this got reported in the newspaper, how would you feel? If words like "foolish," "embarrassed" or "humiliated" come to mind, that ought to tell you something. 5. What will your mom and dad say when they find out? I admit it. This is the least important of all of the questions on the checklist, but just count on the fact that we will find out. You know we always do. 6. Will this seem like a dumb thing five years from now? A tattoo of your favorite band may seem like a great idea now, but it may cause a prospective employer to wonder. 7. Will God be pleased with this activity? You have always made great decisions in this are, but I want to add this question to the list because it is so important. This doesn't mean you can't have fun. Just the opposite. But whether we are being serious or just goofing around, we should remember that God is involved with what we do.

Whenever you go out with the gang, you always do a good job of making sure everyone is included in the fun. So think about this. Common sense can be like a shy friend. It kind of stays in the background. Sometimes it can get lost or overlooked in all the excitement. But it is a friendship that should be developed and nurtured.