Each One an Individual
by Dr. Rich Murphy
Any parent who has had more than one child quickly comes to realize that each child is born as an individual. They look different, act different, think different, learn different, and even react different than each other. What works in raising the first child may or may not work for raising the second one.
Granted, there are things that all children need, like love, food, clothing, discipline and instruction. But how we give those things to our children has to be tailored for each child’s personality and needs.
It is easy to see this concept in a family with two children, one of whom is gifted and the other who has special needs. While the gifted child may learn things incredibly quickly, even at times learning it the first time they are told, the other child may need much repetition, even continuing past the normal age for having learned that life lesson.
Your case probably isn’t as extreme as this, but it’s still the same. One of your children may be extremely quick in learning mathematics, but another struggles with that subject. Or, you could have one child who is strong willed, while the other is compliant. While both children need to do their math homework, one will finish it faster than the other. Likewise, while both children need to learn to obey you as their parent, it will require much more work, and much more patience, to teach that lesson to the strong willed child.
However, this isn’t the only difference that we find in our children. It seems that all children are pre-programmed to be successful in different areas. One child may be born with a propensity towards music, another for the sciences, and a third who isn’t studious but loves to encourage other people. Each one has hidden gifts and talents that need to be nurtured.
One of the greatest challenges of parenting is discovering these built-in talents and helping our children develop them. It is all too easy to say that the first child should be the doctor and the second one the lawyer, but maybe they don’t always come out that way. Likewise, trying to say that a child should follow in their parent’s footsteps is a likely recipe for disaster. Just because a child grows up on a farm doesn’t mean that that child will have a natural ability to understand farming. Oh, they might learn, but that isn’t the same thing.
As a child grows, it is extremely helpful to expose them to as many different opportunities as possible. Don’t expect the school they attend to supply all those opportunities, after school activities are an important part of the learning process. Sports, music, ballet classes, gymnastics, school clubs and working on crafts at home are all part of discovering a child’s strengths.
Once you find the areas where a particular child is inclined to succeed, encourage them to continue in that area. It may not be the area where you want or expect them to have success, but as a good parent, that’s really not so important. What is important is that they succeed in what they are good at doing.
Copyright © 2010 by Richard A. Murphy, Maranatha Life. All rights reserved.