Cultivating Your Child’s Strengths
A typical morning may start like this:
Child 1: “Mom, can we have chocolate pudding for breakfast?’
Me: “No, it’s not a healthy breakfast.”
Child 1: “Then can we have vanilla pudding?”
Child 2: “Mom, I got already poured the milk in the pan with the chocolate pudding. Can we have chocolate pudding?”
Child 2: “You’re not being a very good steward if you throw out the pudding.”
Child 3: “I want chocolate pudding.”
Child 3: “I WANT CHOCOLATE PUDDING! I WANT CHOCOLATE PUDDING! I WANT CHOCOLATE PUDDING…”
Child 4: “Hey, Tyler, go ask Mom if we can have chocolate pudding for breakfast.”
Me: “I heard that.”
I have 4 children with vastly distinct personalities. All were raised in the same home with the same parents, but are all unique. Raising them in a manner that allowed them their differences and cultivated their strengths while maintaining my sanity was a challenge. I was not a Christian when I first became a parent. God graciously saved my husband and me soon after the birth of our second child. I wanted to be the perfect parent to give God glory. While my motive may have been pure, the goal disregarded my, and their, fallen natures.
I heard early in my Christian walk the proverb, “Train up a child in the way he would go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” I had heard various explanations, but what did that mean for me? I was trying to raise little replicas of Jesus who were housed in the bodies of imps. Then one of my mentors gave me this definition, “The goal is not to make Stepford children, but encourage them to be who God created them to be.” Imagine the freedom I felt. I began to view my children through a different lens and with forward looking vision. I grew to appreciate their differences in how they approached life. It wasn’t always easy; I had a hard time believing God created this child to be so strong-willed, or that child to be so “by the book.” Training them to find and acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses allowed them to succeed and fail in safety. Their successes became opportunities to celebrate, their weaknesses were opportunities to grow or humbly allow others to shine. In the process, I caught a glimpse of how God views us through Christ: unique, worth the challenge, and totally lovable.
So I can honestly say, we did have chocolate pudding for breakfast. The argument that finally worked?
“Mom, can we have chocolate pudding for breakfast? You look like you could use some chocolate.”