When You Wonder Which Way Your Child Should Go

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As I watched my son kick the dirt on the field, it was painfully obvious that soccer was not his thing. When we asked him if he wanted to play another year, he said, “Yes,” but I knew better.

I watched him get excited about singing. I watched him get excited about building stuff. I saw his enthusiasm over camping, forging trails, and learning a new musical instrument.

But I rarely saw him get excited over kicking a ball.

In the journey of motherhood, it is so easy for me to jump on the bandwagon of what other parents are doing. Other moms are signing their kids up for soccer, so I sign my son up too. Their kids are participating in multiple sports. So I naturally wonder if my son should have a full docket of sports activities as well.

All of these interests are worthy of pursuing and help build character. But here’s the thing.

In all of my preoccupation with what other mothers are doing, I miss out on the unique personality of my child.

I want to train up my child in the way he should go, not in the way every other child is going. And my child is distinct and special just the way God created him. My desire is to push him to be exactly who God designed him to be, not to try to be someone else.

Not to be who I am or who his dad is or his cousin or his friend. Just his one-of-kind self.

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In the words of Thriving Family writer Wess Stafford, “The spirit of a child is a lot like wet cement. It doesn’t take much effort to make an imprint. Any time you see your child go skipping by, you’re in the presence of a construction zone and out to ask yourself, ‘What is being built here? Is there anything I can do to advance this cause?'”

I looked at my son and considered his personality. I thought about what I could do to help him not just survive, but thrive.

So the other night when the flyer for the Cub Scouts came home in my son’s school folder, I looked at my husband and said, “This is something Jaden would love.” He wholeheartedly agreed and took him to his first pack meeting the following Thursday.

When my six-year-old came home that evening, he was grinning from ear to ear.

“I’m a Cub Scout now, Mama,” he said as he showed me his new hat and stood proudly in the kitchen with his bag of popcorn.

The hat was so big it made his head look tiny.

“Wow, look at that! That is the coolest, buddy!” I listened to all of his latest adventures as he put his gear in his room, where he supposed it would be safe from the mischievous hands of his little brother.

As we winded into our bedtime routine and got the kids down for the night, I reflected on the events of the evening. My son had found something that fit. He was going to be a part of a group that would help him develop into the man he would one day become.

When I saw his smile and watched him walk tall, I knew we had taken a step in the right direction.

 

*Linking up with Meredith Bernard, Holley Gerth and Jennifer Dukes Lee.

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28 thoughts on “When You Wonder Which Way Your Child Should Go

  1. You have a lot of wisdom here, Abby. I don’t think it gets easier as they get older. I have to watch myself to keep from pushing my son over school work (He does like it and excells, but I don’t want him to think that’s why I value him. Such a fine line between training in responsibility and pushing!) And this week I’m coming to terms with the fact that my daughter may quit piano! Glory Be! If that’s what she wants, that’s okay! Glad your guy found something he enjoys.

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    • Yes, I am learning more as he gets older for sure. I think I may try piano with him at some point to because he actually learned a piece when he was at this grandparents (they have a piano) and he really enjoyed it. I’m just trying not to pile on too much at once. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts today, Betsy.

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  2. Abby- I seriously love your writing style. Your words put me in the story, seeing the surroundings, feeling the feelings, hearing the conversation. And this perspective on parenting – is such a game-changer! I remember when I first realized how I projected so much onto Luke…that wasn’t Luke, but it was me! I read (somewhere?) just last week, about how the parents’ role is to understand the temperament of the child, to value it, and to help them build their strengths around it. My biggest prayer is that I will parent Luke well…not re-parent myself well! Thanks for the reminder!

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    • I love hearing that you feel in the story, Amy. It is hard not to project ourselves onto our kids. And at six, kids are still learning what they like so I think you have to try different things and feel them out. I’m so glad that we found something he enjoys. Thank you so much for your kind words, girl. 🙂

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  3. This is SO good, Abby. I’ve been struggling with what to get my children involved in, having NOT done anything recreational with them yet. If they really wanted to, I would, but there has been no interest. I fear the multiple sports and no quality of life I see so many others have, so I’ve resisted any sport all together. I know there is a balance and I’m going to let my son try a sport this spring. Any maybe Scouts would be his “thing,” too. I appreciate you bringing this issue to light. Great post!

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    • Yes, I fear that too Meredith which is why I’ve only done soccer so far. I’m thinking of trying karate because I think he might enjoy an individual sport more. We shall see. Thank you so much for your encouragement today. I’m looking forward to your 31 day topic! xoxo

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    • It’s something I’m learning with my oldest son as he gets older, Shelly. I pray that I help shape him in a way that grows his sweet disposition. Thank you for stopping here today!

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  4. It is so easy to fall prey to the comparison trap when it comes to mothering. But you’re right that when we do that, the uniqueness of our children gets lost! In the end, I think it’s important to look at what exactly a child gets out of an activity—be it learning to work on a team, learning to be a leader, etc.—and then just find an activity that teaches those things AND that the child actually enjoys. Sounds like you did just that!

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    • Yes, all of those things are important and I think that scouting will help those traits develop. At this age, a lot of it is trial and error as they find what they like. Thanks, Katie!

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  5. This is a tricky part of parenthood – to encourage our children to develop interests and skills, but not just push them into what we think they should do. I struggle with some of their choices because they’re so different from anything I would ever have done – but I have to remind myself that they’re not me. So, when my extroverted daughter dreams of being a cheerleader (something this introvert mamma shunned), I know I have to let go and let her try.

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    • I tried cheerleading once but it was never my thing either, Kathryn. I believe it takes a wise mom to let them find their own way. 🙂 I’m trying to find that balance each and every day.

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  6. Hey! Thank you for visiting my blog. 🙂 After “meeting you” in my comments I had to come to visit you too. I love this post – it is so true…our children can be such a mystery to unwrap. We want to nurture their gifts rather than squash them with our own expectations. I love the examples that you’ve given. I think all moms can relate!

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    • Thank you so much for stopping here, Britta! I’m glad we made a connection. Yes, this is something I’m learning more each day. Praying God helps me find balance!

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  7. I’ve been absent over here as late – you got a site redesign? Looks good!

    I’m not quite into the land of following along with what other parents do – but my oldest is getting close to that age where I’m going to have to be careful. I love the reminder that I should train her up for her way – not everyone else’s. She’s in gymnastics right now and, she’s not as good as other 4 year olds. Then again, she’s 4 and she loves it, so we keep going. But she’s got a thing for numbers and building… And I need to be better about cultivating my little mini-me-engineer, too.

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    • Hi Kirsten! Lovely to see you again. 🙂 I think if your daughter enjoys it that is great because it can be a challenge to find what they like. Oh yes, my hubby is an engineer and I think my oldest son is going to be, too. He loves learning how things work.

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  8. This is so good, Abby, and it makes me a little teary as one of my girls is really WANTING to be in athletics (because the other kids are) but struggling to keep up with their skill level. I am praying that she will stay in it, only if she enjoys it, and that God will lead her to become more involved in the activities that she is more God-gifted for. So hard to watch our kiddos struggle …

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    • I know, IS heartbreaking to see them struggle. That is great that your daughter is trying different things, though. I am still learning the things he is gifted in, although I do know some, and it’s beautiful to discover. I pray that I will nurture those gifts. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts today, Jennifer.

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  9. This is so true, Abby! The whole idea of focusing on what one child needs differently than the others. With four of our own, we can see how each one is different and what works for one is not how it works for the other. One thrives in a certain area where another one does not. It’s that whole balance and looking at each child as their own…not a carbon copy! Thanks for these words of encouragement!

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    • Yes, I try to find that balance each and every day, Rachel. They are definitely not carbon copies. My two boys are as different as night and day. 😉 Thank you so much for YOUR encouragement. You are a blessing.

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  10. Abby,
    You really have insight beyond your years 🙂 You have become a good student of your children…you study them, looking for the unique “bents” that God has given them and in doing so you are training them up in the way that they should go. So many parents try to push their kids into things they don’t like, but you’ve really nailed this one and share it with such encouragement with others!!
    Blessings,
    Bev

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  11. It’s just as hard when they’re 20 and can’t seem to ‘pick a sport’, er, career or course of study in college. Parenting is hard work and must be accompanied by lots of prayers for wisdom for the ability to stay off the bandwagon and allow our children to grow into adults who desire is to serve Him. Boy, is that ever hard!

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    • I can only imagine, Anita! Yes, parenting is on-your-knees hard. I am so dependent on God, and I suppose that is on purpose. 😉 Thanks so much for stopping here and sharing your thoughts.

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