Since my daughters were out of school last Monday, we had several things planned for the day, most of which involved me driving them from one place to another. On Sunday afternoon, our older daughter texted me a schedule she’d made for us to follow to make sure that we got to each place at the right time. My words to her on receiving her text? “You are your mother’s daughter!” We both like having a plan in place and knowing what is expected of us.
God blesses our families with children who have different personalities. Whether or not those children are the same gender, resemble each other, or have similar abilities, they typically handle things differently. Even if we see many of our own or their dad’s traits in them, each one is still a unique individual.
Often we’re tempted to try to turn them into what we are or what we want them to be. Yet we need to learn to accept them as God made them. This doesn’t mean we don’t work to correct their character flaws or help them learn self discipline in areas where they struggle, but it does mean we accept their personality and learn to work with them to help them grow and mature in the skills they need for life.
Here are a few tips for learning to accept our child as God has made her. (Obviously these apply to boys as well – I just went with the feminine gender here since that’s what I’m dealing with!)
1. Learn her strengths and weaknesses and find ways to work with those to help her succeed. Figure out what motivates her and use that as you challenge her to do her best. Notice what trips her up, and help her learn ways to avoid getting caught in that trap.
2. Say aloud (and often), “I love this about you.” “This” could be her creativity, responsibility, generosity, compassion, determination, obedience….the list goes on and on!
3. Be there to support whatever interests she chooses to follow. Sit through her ball games, spelling bees, piano recitals, band concerts, or backyard Olympics. Join her in building Lego castles or coloring pictures or baking cookies. Even if what she’s interested in today isn’t “your thing,” learn as much as you can about it, then engage her in conversation. (And, although gentle encouragement can be okay, don’t try to push her into “your thing.”)
4. Never compare her to siblings or friends. I make a very conscious effort not to do this. Not only can it make her feel badly about herself, it can cause her to be resentful of the one to whom she’s being compared.
5. Pray for her to be comfortable with the way God has made her, and for her to find pursuits that will lead her to fulfilling His plan for her life. No matter what her personality type or interests, God has a plan for her life and has equipped her with the gifts to carry out that plan. As we accept who she is, she can learn to accept it as well and become the wonderful person He created her to be.
What other tips help you accept your child just as she is?