children are not blank canvases on which we can paint the pictures we want to see. They are not empty hard drives that can be programmed to produce a desired result. They are born with certain talents, abilities, and personalities, hard-wired by their Creator. Ancient Jerusalem’s King Solomon, the writer of many Old Testament proverbs, once said, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6, NIV). His words indicate that part of our job as parents is to help each child realize his own unique design and train him to go with it, not against it. If we want our children to lead focused lives that make the most of their God-given talents and abilities, we must be attentive to the clues that will help us diagnose our kids’ gifts and encourage their interests.
My friend Marla discovered her daughter Rebecca had a talent for dancing when she was just four years old. “I think God was in it from the very beginning,” she says.
She had taken Rebecca to a friend’s dance studio and allowed her to participate in a class. “From the first class, I could tell she was in her element. In the weeks that followed, I actually saw her face change when she entered the studio. She became determined, purposeful, and intent on learning.”
By the time she was ten, Rebecca knew that serving God through dance was what she wanted to do. Through middle school, Rebecca never wavered in her purpose. Instead, it carried her through those years, providing a focus and a framework to each day.
What does my child enjoy doing? (Be careful that it is not just something you enjoy.)
What does she enjoy watching others do? (Be careful that it is not just something you enjoy watching him do.)
Do I really know my child? (Be careful to become a student of your child.)
If you aren’t sure of the answers, then ask your child. Ask grandparents. Ask friends. Discovering your child's gifts often means mastering the art of investigation!
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