I never heard the words I needed to hear most as a young man. As a result, I turned to the world to give me the value and “wisdom” I craved. I don’t blame my parents— they did the best they could with what was available to them. My dad passed away when I was 6 and my stepdad passed away a few years ago.

While my parents did a great job raising me and my brother, I want to make sure my four sons grow up hearing a very different set of messages.

When my boys were younger, the days and years seemed to crawl by. But now, time is flying. In less than two years, my twins will leave the house and head to college or to the workforce. I want them to hear a few things from my wife, Kristen, and I before they leave our home.

While there are certainly more than just three messages I want my boys to hear, in this post I’ll share three things your adolescent sons need to hear from you.

1. “The door is always open”

The teenage years are filled with all kinds of changes and challenges— hormones, technology, new schools, opposite-sex relationships, and much more. I want my sons to know “my door is always open,” meaning they can come talk to me about any problems, questions, or fears at any time. I want them to know Mom and Dad don’t have restricted “office hours.”

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Your adolescent son needs to know that you’re available to them any time. When you sit at home, when you walk (or drive) along the road, when you lie down at night, and when you get up in the morning. It’s not always convenient, but give them the opportunity to engage with you throughout the day and night.

We all know our kids can find answers to most of their questions with a few Google searches or texts from friends. What a gift that can be! But I don’t want my kids learning primarily from their peers or from Google. I want them to know they can always come to me.

I’m so thankful my boys have taken advantage of our open-door policy. They’ve confessed sin, encouraged me, and at times have even appropriately challenged me. I want my boys to know the door is always open.

2. “God is not trying to rip you off”

I want my adolescent sons to know God is worthy of our trust, always. He’s not some cosmic killjoy who wants to steal our fun and punish us with a life of boredom. But the world’s definition of fun often runs in direct contradiction to what’s best— God’s best.

As a teenage boy, I wanted to experience all the world offered, and so I chased after alcohol, girls, and porn. I wanted the things of the world to satisfy me. Like a dog returning to its vomit (Proverbs 26:11), I continued to pursue worldly pleasures because I didn’t trust my parents and I didn’t know the Lord.

I hope my kids have the polar opposite testimony. I tried all the world offered and it came up empty. Instead I want my kids to know God isn’t trying to rip them off and that he died to give them the opposite: life to the full (John 10:10).

God is a Good Father who wants to give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:9-11). He is not trying to rip you off. He is worthy of our trust.

3. “You are not your performance”

I want my adolescent sons to know, at their core, that they are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). While the world rewards performance on the field, in the classroom, or in the choir or band room, I want them to know they are of infinite value because they’re human beings created by God.

in his book Season of Life: A Football Star, a Boy, a Journey to Manhood, author Jeffrey Marx writes about how males often find their value in athletics, women, and success in their jobs. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with doing well in sports, finding a great wife, or succeeding in your job, the average male finds their value and worth in these things. At some point, they’re all going to let us down and fall short of our expectations. When we realize and acknowledge our true worth comes from the Lord, not from our performance, we’re freed up to pursue success with the right motives.

I want my adolescent sons to know their value comes from the fact that the Lord of the universe created them, and that they are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-16). Their value is so much more than their performance.

Three things I want my kids to know: I want them to feel safe coming to me, I want them to know God is always worthy of their trust, and I want them to know the Lord defines their value (so much so that He sent His one and only Son for them).

Yes, there’s so much more I want them to know and hear. But when my twin sons leave our house for college in a couple years, I hope they’ll remember these three invaluable lessons.