In a previous post, I discussed the role of obedience in parenting. One of the elements that goes hand in hand with obedience is intentionally getting to know your kids. Obviously, I mean a much deeper knowing than just the basics of who they are. What I’m talking about is the depth of your child’s heart, the motivations, the giftings, the learning styles, the love languages, etc., that are the core of who that child is.
For some people, this is an intuitive process. For me, however, it was an intentional process of studying how each child played, interacted, learned, loved and communicated. I even had notepads out at one point, taking notes on their behavior. I learned that my elder son loved to set up his wooden trains in elaborate patterns, but then lost interest when it came to playing with the trains on the track. While my younger son picked up on that process and played for hours on the tracks that his sibling had arranged. I watched my older daughter play very well with friends, but then need quiet alone time to recharge. While my younger daughter got jazzed up from interaction with friends, reveling in the ability that she had to lead every moment of play together. Each of these observations (plus many, many more) gave me puzzle pieces of who they were.
One of the reasons that I feel it is important to intricately know your kids is so that you can fan the flames of the gifts that are within them. My personal goal is to know Jesus intimately, to know myself and the giftings that I’ve been given, and to love what He loves, stewarding well those gifts in me to help and love others. That is ultimately what I want for my children, too. What I want for my children is that they know God personally and intimately, that they know themselves really well, and that they are passionate for others, their decisions being driven by their love to use the gifts within them to serve and care for others. They can only accomplish this goal if they know their gifts well.
Obviously, it isn’t my place to reveal every gift that my child has, nor is it my job alone to fan the flames of giftings within them. I completely trust my children and their future to God’s extremely capable hands, and I recognize that He loves them more and knows them better than I ever could. However, I do believe that I can be a tool used to His purposes if I take the time to know well each child.
During the early years of my parenting, a book I used as a resource in the pursuit of knowing my kids was “Different Children, Different Needs”, by Charles F. Boyd. It has within it the way to discover your child’s personality style, how to discover your parental personality style, and ways in which those personalities interact. It has phrases that each personality style loves to hear, and strategies of how to draw out the positives of each style. It was invaluable to me during those years, and I hope it is to you, too.