Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How to Help Your Kids be Successful

The title of this blog gives the impression that much of my posting is out of the overflow of my "world." It's my perspective on the "abundant life" promised in scripture (John 10:10). Sometimes, it is a closer look into the events of my personal life. As is the case of this post.

My family has had an unusually public life in recent weeks as our middle child, Logan (13), has been put out in public forums like youth sports magazines, websites, and local papers. She has established herself as quite the distance runner. I'm sure that carries a very strong parent bias, but the stopwatch speaks for itself. I also know that we all have our own tribes and thus her performance is most significant to those within the running community.

As you might imagine, her mother and I are often asked about her background. "How did she start?", "What makes her so fast?", "How does she train?" are the more popular questions. This is not an attempt to answer those questions. Rather I want to share how we ended up in this spot.

We believe what the Bible teaches when it tells us in Psalm 127:3 that children are a blessing from God. He places them in our lives for us to nourish, love and lead. In return, we receive the blessing of watching them grow into the young men and women created to do "good works He has prepared in advance." (Ephesians 2:10) Part of our responsibility is to lead our children according to their strengths and abilities. This means observing and testing new opportunities for their development. That's how we ended up where we are today. With all three of our children, we have sought to discover "the way they should go."

In Proverbs 22:6 we read, "Train up a child in the way he [or she] should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." Some who read this see it as a directive to parents to establish "the way he should go" for their children. That they are the ones responsible for determining what is right and what is wrong for their children. There's good news: God has already handled that in His word. So if He's got that covered, what is our role in this process?

If you drill down on the phrase "in the way" you'll discover that it implies that the "way" is how God has crafted our children to serve Him. Each of us, young and old, have unique abilities that allow us to influence others for the purpose of sharing God's message of hope and encouragement. Some of us can sing, some can draw while others can lead or care for the sick. The list is limitless.

As parents, raising our children "in the way" means helping them discover their unique ability and then providing opportunities for that ability to develop or be an effective tool even as they are young. I'll expand on how we have done this with all three of our children in my next post. In the mean time, let me encourage you to start observing your children. Make a list of the things they love to do: draw, sing, play outside, help out around home. Look for simple, natural tendencies that make up who they are as an individual. Stay tuned...

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