Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Nature and nurture

"Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6

Our two older children are on the brink of the age when a plethora of activities are offered and encouraged. And like children in an ice cream shop, they'd happily keep piling on "scoop after scoop" of fun activities if we'd let them. Already, we're talking swimming lessons, piano lessons (granted, at home with mom), kid's club at church, and children's choir.

Children's choir gave us pause as Sam hasn't expressed as much interest in it as we thought. Another night of activity during the week that we need to get him to and retrieve him from? (Yes, I realize this is only the beginning)

We are firmly against loading up our kids' schedules with a bunch of stuff that will seem unimportant in a few years compared to family time.

But Sam has musical talent. He also continues to tell us that he wants to be involved in music when he grows up. Do not we as his parents then have a responsibility to guide him in this area? His talent is God-given, like all our talents, and thus, he has a responsibility before God to use this talent for His glory. Since he is only 6, we also have a responsibility before God to direct Sam in this area.

As a piano teacher, I have seen first-hand many parents who allow their child to direct their own practice time or quit if they want to. Let me tell you, it is a rare thing to find a young child who is motivated enough to practice every day without some parental "encouragement".

Thinking over all of this, I wondered if this is part of what is meant by Proverbs 22:6. We, as parents, need to be on the look-out for the areas God has gifted our children in which they can honor Him. Who better knows our children than we do, after all? Yes, sometimes this takes trial and error to discover, but when you see talent in a certain area, talent that comes with deep enjoyment (most of the time), you may be on to something. Zero in on that - gently - and nurture and guide your children in that particular area rather than placing a buffet of choices before them each school year. We, as followers of Christ, tend to thrive when we are working in the area He has gifted us in and designed us for. We're more joyful, fulfilled people. Even as a 6-year-old.

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