Fostering God's Gifts in Your Children
by Crystal Bowman
Little ones relate to the immediate world around them. They hurry to the window when they hear the roar of the garbage truck. They sing along at the top of their lungs when they hear their favorite songs, and they paint masterpieces for Mama to hang on the refrigerator.
As the world around them expands, children become intrigued with science, art, sports or music. They begin to imagine what they will become someday, and a wise parent will offer guidance to help them discover their God-given gifts and abilities.
Helping children discover their gifts and talents as well as identifying their interests can be an overwhelming challenge for parents—and no parent is perfect! Here are some things to keep in mind as you foster God’s gifts in your children:
Read books to help young children explore their interest. From dinosaurs, spaceships and diggers to jungles, oceans and farms—children’s books are a great resource to further their education and develop a child’s interest.
Enroll in classes to help your child develop a skill. From ballet, soccer and gymnastics to music lessons and art classes—children can invest in a variety of activities to discover their talents and passions.
Allow your children to change their minds. Eighty percent of college students change their major at least once during their college career. If your child loses interest in an activity, it’s okay to drop it. We expected our children to finish what we signed up for, but they didn’t need to reenroll if they didn’t want to.
Skill verses interest. Just because a child is good at something, doesn’t mean they need to pursue it. My daughter was a great swimmer, but she enjoyed swimming for pleasure and had no desire to compete. She enjoyed being competitive in other sports like tennis and crew. Your son might have the strong body of a linebacker, but if he isn’t interested in football he should not be forced to play.
Your children are not you. We naturally take pride in our children’s achievements, but we must never allow them to be an extension of our ego or use them to fulfill our unfulfilled childhood dreams. Also, we want our children to do their best, but they don’t need to be the best at what they do. Help them to appreciate the skill level they have and resist comparing them to other kids.
Help your children set realistic goals. We encourage our children to dream big and we tell them they can do anything they want to do, but that is not always true. A girl who is five feet tall might not make the girls’ varsity basketball team, but she may be a good gymnast. A boy who cannot carry a tune will probably not be a famous singer, but he might be a good actor or artist. It’s important to guide our children to build on their strengths and pursue activities where their natural abilities can be an asset.
Help your children identify their God-given gifts. Whether it’s academics, athletics, social skills, musical, theatrical or artistic abilities, we can remind our children that God created them with these gifts so they can use them to serve God and bless others.
Being created and loved by a holy God is the greatest insight we can give our children to build their faith and confidence and guide them to follow God’s plan for their lives. We can teach them Bible verses like Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Another great Scripture is Psalm 37:4, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” When our children stay in a close relationship with God, they can follow the desires of their heart because God is the one who gives them their desires.
Of course, the best thing parents can do for their children is to pray for them and with them. Ask God to lead and direct their paths and pray for wisdom and discernment as they face their future. As our children discover who God created them to be, they will find joy and fulfillment in their lives, no matter where God leads them.
Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books for children. She also writes lyrics for children’s piano music and stories for Clubhouse Jr. Magazine. When she’s not writing, she enjoys walking, eating ice cream and hugging her grandchildren. You can find her at: www.crystalbowman.com and www.facebook.com/crystaljbowman.