Ever ridden with a student driver?

Try a student pilot.

Getting an invitation to fly with my older son, who has been at the stick only a handful of times, was a surprise.

A chance to fly over some of Florida’s most beautiful islands was an opportunity too fine to pass up.

More important was a chance to show my son, Dobin, I have faith in him in whatever he decides to do.

He’s earned that faith, as have all of my children.

Learning to have faith in our kids is important to the relationships. I believe the more faith we put in them, the more likely they are to reward that faith.

Certainly we have to be judicious. If Dobin had a record of reckless driving, I would have politely turned him down when he asked me to fly with him or even to ride with him across town.

Putting faith in our children is hardest when they are little, and we have to gradually widen the boundaries in which they operate.

Letting them cross streets by themselves, venture into the deep end of pools or go on camping trips with their friends can all cause angst.

Teaching them to drive can have its harrowing moments. Then letting them take the car out on their own at night is one of the biggest leaps of faith modern parents must endure.

There have been few times any of my children have let me down when I’ve put my faith in their abilities to make good decisions.

It can be hard for parents to execute those decisions.

More than I regret their few failures, I regret a couple of instances in which I didn’t show enough faith in them. Sometimes it’s hard for us to realize that our children have become adults. When big things are at stake, we can still get jittery.

With the flight, I was in from the beginning, but still felt comforted when I found out Dobin’s flight instructor would be on board.

But, as I suspected, it didn’t really matter.

My son talked to the tower, took us off like a Frisbee thrown into the wind and made all of the maneuvers to his instructor’s approval.

My younger son, Casey, and I just sat in the back seat and looked at the changing colors of the Gulf, the boats leaving wakes in trips to unknown places and the contrasts between the islands.

I hated to hear the flight instructor tell my pilot to head back to the airport. That was not because of a lack of faith in how my son would land the plane, but because I didn’t want to give up the late afternoon view.

Dobin touched down without a bounce — not that a bounce or two would have mattered.

Later when he asked if I’d been nervous flying with him as a pilot, I honestly answered that I wasn’t.

I told him I had faith he wouldn’t have invited us up if he hadn’t been confident he could handle the task.