As a young dad early in my parenting days, I made it a discipline to listen to the wisdom of those who were already raising children. Two observations that seemed to be consistent were: "Enjoy your children as much as you can because they grow up so fast" and "You will be amazed at how two children who come from the same parents and live in the same home will be absolute opposite of each other." This last bit of wisdom proved to be 100% true in our home.
Our firstborn was the "life is a party" child. I picked up on this when I entered my bathroom one night to see her as a three-year-old standing on a step giving her mom an enthusiastic rendition of "Jesus Loves the Little Children" without one stitch of clothing. Yep! This one was going to enjoy life.
When her sister came along, I fully expected another version of our first child. Apparently, the wisdom I had gleaned from others had escaped my mind and I was in for an eye-opening experience. Where our first child appeared to be the life of the party, our second one was the party planner. She was the organizer, server and cleaner all in one. We should have used "Detail" as her middle name.
A few years later, their brother came along. Just the mere fact that he's a boy says enough. He's all boy...there's no confusion on that part. Yet, he has his own outlook on life and strangely enough, he fits somewhere in the middle between his sisters.
So here I was in my own Behavioral Science laboratory, trying to figure out "the way they should go."
Without question, some of our children's make-up is genetic. I look at my three and see behaviors that I'm sure aren't taught or learned. Some things are hard-wired from conception. But the rest of who we are arise from traits we develop over time based on our environments and life experiences. This is where the role of the parent is so vital.
In my quest to lead them effectively, I began reading whatever I could get into my hands. The book that gave me the most direction was, Different Children, Different Needs: Understanding the Unique Personality of Your Child by Charles F. Boyd. As I chased each line with my highlighter in hand, I searched for clues that would direct me in helping my three very different children develop one of the great gifts they had been given by their Creator.
The best part of this book is that Mr. Boyd guides you on a journey to explore and identify your children's bent or personality. And then, he offers some practices that have proven effective in pointing them in a way that is in the current of who they really are as opposed to against the current, creating many challenges to your parenting experience.
In the next post, I'll download what I discovered about our three children and what we did to apply and expand on what we learned. In the mean time, I'd love to know what your initial thoughts on the concept of discovering your child's natural gifts and then helping them expand those gifts. Leave me a comment below.
Books mentioned above: