Your child is a person. This may seem like such an obvious statement, but I feel that it is so important in our parenting and can often be lost in the business of training and equipping our children. When I say that a child is a person, I am not referring to the fact that they are human. I mean that they are a unique individual; they are their own person. They have a personality, ideas, gifts, and a mind of their own.
Why is this important?
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 ESV, emphasis added)
I have heard it taught that “Train up a child in the way he should go” could more accurately be translated as “Train up a child in his way” which actually refers to the unique path that this child is destined by the Lord to walk.
How can we know what “his way” is unless we determine to learn our children, their uniqueness, their gifts, their strengths and weaknesses; and then determine to value those things even if, and especially if they are very different from our own?
So often as people, we determine what is normal based on who we are or how we operate. From that place, anything different than us can be deemed inappropriate or less than. This can so quickly permeate our parenting, where we seek to conform our children into our own image. I want to be careful to clarify here that I am not talking about things that are applicable to all children, such as godly character, moral values, and a biblical worldview. These are foundational. But each child is unique, and we should value their God-given characteristics and traits.
Here are a few areas to consider:
When we don’t make room for the ways that our child is different than us, we can unknowingly shame them, causing them to think that something is wrong with them or that they are not good enough. Instead, we can be taking time to teach them to navigate life as the person that God made them to be…learning to utilize strengths and learning to grow in weak areas. When we shame them, we just create confusion and often paralysis. When we train them specifically and intentionally, we empower them to face any situation and to be able to do it well.
Consider: In moments of conflict, is your child in rebellion/disrespect/disobedience or may it simply be that you have an expectation for them to be, act, or respond in a way that is not consistent with who they are as a person? Sometimes our kids are simply acting in sin and we need to respond appropriately. But other times, if we look a little closer, it may be that they are struggling to express themselves and need us to patiently and lovingly walk along side them as they learn to navigate this situation as the person that they are.
How do we grow in this?
I believe that parenting is one of the greatest privileges that exists in this life. What an honor to be the ones entrusted to raise up these little persons. To be able to draw out the treasure the Lord placed in them. To create a safe environment for them to learn by practice that they are indeed “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
So, let’s be intentional to train our children in the way they should go!