Sunday morning I will mention (almost in passing) the wonderful verse found in Proverbs 22:6: "Train up a child in a way that he should go."
In other words, raise your children in the "bent" that they have. Each child has a particular bent, a set of characteristics created by God. That bent is the result of the child's temperament, spiritual gifts, interest, physical qualities, and talents.
It is unique to that child.
We all have ways that we would like our child to go - the direction we have for them; but at the end of the day we must find out their "bent" and train them and raise them to "be all that they can be" in that area of life.
For instance, you may love the arts, your child might love sports. Your "bent" may be toward math, your child's "bent" might be toward history.
You might love reading, "your child might find reading tedious but might be wired toward science."
A key principle is this: Don't raise the child in the way you want them to go (fulfilling your unfulfilled dreams and aspirations) but raise them in the direction they are equipped, created and wired by God to go.
The question becomes, "How do you do that as a parent?"
A few suggestions:
First of all, pray. So simple and obvious, but so needed.
You can pray something like:
"Father, we know that you have given us this child to raise. We thank you for that - in fact we praise your for the opportunity to disciple this gift that you have given us.
We now dedicate him to you, placing him/her in your hands. We dedicate ourselves to raising him/her right - doing the best we can in raising them in the way "they should go." Please help us understand this child. Give us the wisdom we need to be good parents who will raise him/her right. Amen."
Secondly, watch and observe your child. Watch what their likes and dislikes are. See how they interact with other children while doing certain activities.
Proverbs 20:11,12 points out the importance of watching (with the intent of finding our your child's bent), "the good or bad that children do shows what they are like. Hearing and seeing are gifts from the Lord."
Finally, listen. James Dobson writes, "parental insensitivity is the number one reason for the causes of an unhappy home."
What do they talk about the most? Be sensitive to what makes them sad or happy. What they like to talk about or not talk about.
Find out the answers to the following questions (all from the book Breakthrough parenting by John Maxwell - I recommend this book to all parents):
What gives my child joy? Who is my child's hero? What does my child fear most? Which activities give my child energy? Which ones wear my child out? If my child could pick one activity for me to do with him or her, what would it be? What music does my child like? What does my child want to be when they grow up?
Just a thought for a Wednesday.