Below is an article I wrote for my MOPS group's "Pitter Patter" newsletter way back in October of 1999 when my children were 3 and 1. It was a good reminder to me of the goals I still have today.
Recently, I overhead a mother and her daughter talking outside the "Body Zone" exhibit at the Orlando Science Center. The mom was restraining her young daughter from rushing right into the mouth (literally) of the exhibit. "Let’s read the sign and see what this is all about first -- let’s see what we are getting into here," she reasoned with the little girl. "I’d rather be surprised," was the over-the-shoulder response as the little girl took off running.
This interchange reminded me how different people can be. Whether by temperament or by choice, my kids will not grow up into miniature me's. They are their own individual selves and may be completely different from me.
I once heard the familiar proverb "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6) rephrased as "Train a child according to his bent..." This is a great wisdom that we should consider: how to encourage our children in their individual gifts, abilities and talents rather than imposing our own ways and means and dreams on them.
The best way I know is to give lots of praise for each accomplishment, however small. If Holly colors a picture – even outside the lines – she gets two thumbs up from me. Will she be an artist one day? Who knows? If Elijah utters a "da," he gets a boat-load of enthusiasm from me. Will he be a preacher one day? Who knows?
My children don’t have to be perfect and they don’t have to be like me. I just need to encourage them to do what they like to do in they way that they like to do it. And give them enough room to read the signs ahead or to just "be surprised."