The first time I went into the backyard with three-year-old Daniel to teach him the game, I was ecstatic.
I vividly remember that first wildly swinging “fat-bat” hit that connected with my well-timed pitch, sending the ball over the garage and into the alley beyond. His first home run gave way to a wild celebration as he ran randomly around the yard and then jumped on the Frisbee placed as home plate – just the way I’d taught him. My dream was coming true!
The only problem is that as the years went by, in spite of my encouragement, it became clear that Daniel didn’t have the patience for baseball. “This is dumb! I stood in the outfield for four innings and never touched the ball!”
By age nine, Daniel’s baseball career was over. I had to let go of my dream and give him the freedom and encouragement to pursue his own dreams.
Since those early parenting days, each of our children has grown into his or her own areas of interest. Lynne and I had to first develop eyes to notice their unique gifts and interests, accept the fact that some of those interests and skills were beyond our ability or interest to teach, and then do our best to find opportunities for the kids to develop in those areas.
Parents committed to discovering God’s special purposes for their children will seize the opportunity to affirm the unique traits and interests God created – even if their children are wired very differently from their parents. These parents notice and encourage what is there. They do not superimpose what is not. This communicates a critical message to the child: “Because you are here to accomplish God’s purposes, not to meet my needs, I will value your uniqueness.”
The critical message children cry to their parents, the one for all of us to engrave in our brains, is: “Empower me to live life the way God created me to live it rather than tell me your way to live it.”
This post is an excerpt from our book, How to Grow a Connected Family.