The dinner table seems to be the center of interesting conversation at my house. Is it the same for your family?
This was the conversation a few days ago:
Child A: Mom, it’s easy for me to be nice.
Child B: Well, it’s NOT easy for me…
As I listened to this back and forth banter, I began to realize something that should seem like common sense.
Each of my children is different and they struggle with different things. What comes naturally for one doesn’t necessarily come naturally for another.
I think we all understand this when it comes to musical ability, intelligence, or athleticism. For example, Jonah can run quickly, but I don’t expect my girls to be able to run like him. Brienne has amazing musical talent, playing multiple instruments, but I don’t expect my littles to have that same ability. Vivienne has a tendency towards organization and control, preferring things to be ordered, but I don’t expect the other two kids to be as structured as she is.
But when it comes to obedience, to treating others kindly, to speaking with appropriate tone of voice and attitude, I expect all three of my children to be absolutely compliant in the exact same way.
However, the obedient spirit that comes naturally for one child doesn’t necessarily come naturally for another. And kindness and generosity isn’t as easy for one of our children as it is for the others.
So why do we expect all of our children to react in the same way to our instructions and commands? Why do we think they will all respond similarly to our parenting style?
Romans 12:6-8 says this:
“In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”
In other words, the Lord has given each of us different giftings and different personalities. Some of us are encouragers, some are generous givers, some are helpers. This isn’t to say that we can’t develop these skills, but for some of us, these things come more naturally.
So how does this apply in our parenting?
First, we need to treat each child individually. We shouldn’t compare our children to each other, expecting one child to act like another child.
Second, we need to diligently teach our children to be kind and generous, obedient and loving, knowing that it will take more time for some of our children to learn these traits.
Last, we need to praise our children for the things they do well and be an encouragement in the things they struggle with. It’s important that our children do not feel defeated over areas in their lives that do not come naturally.
I don’t know about you, but for me, the realization that each of my children struggle to obey in different areas has been eye-opening. I now understand this truth: It is okay that I need to spend more time with one child working on attitude than I do with the others. Or I need to spend more time instilling kindness in one of our children whereas the other two are generally kindhearted.
We are all gifted in different ways. And as our children grow and learn to trust Christ, the Holy Spirit will help them develop those gifts and traits.
So today, sweet friends, trust the Lord as He works in the lives of your children. Give them grace when they fail, when it takes them a while to learn a lesson. And give yourself grace as you parent these little people, knowing that you are raising them to be good adults who love Jesus.