When I was a kid, I wanted to be Joe Hardy from The Hardy Boys. Well, to be perfectly honest, I wanted to be Shaun Cassidy portraying Joe Hardy. There’s an awkward photo of me in a jacket with the sleeves pulled up, shorts and high white socks to prove it. I’m not going to post it on here, I know how social media works. But I also loved the Hardy Boy books. I would scrape together my allowance to buy the next copy and then devour the book. My collection wasn’t extensive, but I treasured the ones I did have.

I still have a few copies on my bookshelf. I liked following the mystery and trying to figure out who was doing what and what was going to happen next. I still do. People are mysterious to me. When I was the editor of YouthWalk magazine, one of my favorite parts of the job was interviewing different artists and authors. It gave me a chance to ask the questions I always wanted to ask, and uncover what motivated them to choose the words and messages they penned.

Now I just like exploring and uncovering the mystery of those around me. I like information and insight. But some mysteries slowly unfold. Parenting is one of those. Sometimes your children are a mystery waiting to be uncovered. If you have more than one child, or if your child has a personality different than you, you know this. If your kid is wired similar to you, you usually have a pretty good idea of what’s going on and how they are processing the world around them. But for the ones who are wired different from you, they are mysteries. You don’t get why they approach life the way they do. Why they process things the way they do. Why they enjoy doing some of the things you don’t enjoy doing.

And so you have two choices. You can either Hardy Boy up and start diving into the mystery, or you can simply stand on the outside and be stupefied. You can ask questions. You can observe. You can dive in and try to understand their world. Or you can avoid their world, stay in your own, and simply hope you’ll stumble across common ground at some point. The tendency will be to shape them into your image, to like the things you like, and to enjoy the same things you do.

Avoid shaping them in your image, and instead help them discover how God made them to be, even if it’s different than how you are wired. Help them uncover the mystery of how they are created in God’s image, not your own. And in the process, uncover the mystery together. Hardy Boy style.