Children are delicate creatures. They are so impacted by our words and our actions. Oh, how we parents seldom realize just how much this is true. One of the ways we impact them is by our words or even our implications of their intelligence. It is this I’d like to speak to today. By God’s grace and mercy, adults who were constantly criticized by parents can overcome this shadow of dissatisfaction (and for some of you this has probably continued into adulthood. Even our adult children need to know that we love them for who they are without condition!) However, if you have young children at home, you, as a parent, can give them a real boost as they head into adulthood if you choose to value them for who God made them to be, rather than always longing for them to be someone they were never meant to be.
What follows is something I wrote over ten years ago on another blog I had at the time. I was still in the midst of motherhood when raising kids was still my top priority. This important lesson that I learned in those years lives on. If you have school-aged children still living in your home, I hope you will take a moment to read this. And if you don’t, I hope that you will encourage those that are in this stage to keep this in mind as they raise those precious blessings that God has given to them.
Here’s what I wrote back in 2012–
If you have more than one child, you know that each child is different. In my case, of my four children, I have three that love to play team sports and one who prefers individual sports. I have one who loves to sew, three who love babies, one who loves to bake, and one who can fix anything. I could give more examples, but if you are a mom, you know exactly what I am talking about. Our children are not only different in their preferences, but also in that which they excel.
Which leads me to one of my greatest frustrations when it comes to raising our children. Some kids are very academic and do well on tests without even studying. Other kids can take something apart and put it back together just right, and yet struggle to get good grades. Some kids have the warmest hearts and are always thinking of others, but their report cards tell them that they aren’t one of the “smart” ones.
Why are we so quick to judge our child’s worth on academic test scores and grades? Or perhaps we judge them on their athletic prowess or musical giftedness? Why don’t we realize that there are different types of gifts and we should value equally the gifts our children are given? Of course, academics, sports, and music are important and I firmly believe we need to teach our children to always do the best they can do. But I never want my child to believe that they were less valuable just because they struggled with test grades or to make a goal on the soccer field.
Our children are judged severely in their growing up years on their grades, their athletic ability, and even their musical talent. This leaves many children stranded in our school system. They may not be good at any of these things but instead have amazing mechanical ability, logic skills, or a magical touch with babies or animals.
This warped hierarchy is one of the reasons I love homeschooling. As moms, we can focus on our child’s strengths, all the while teaching them academics in the best way for them. But, for some of us, homeschooling isn’t an option. So it is up to us to make sure our child never feels worthless because they struggle on a test, aren’t the star athlete, or can’t act, sing, or dance.
Ironically, once we leave that microcosm of school, we lose total interest in anyone’s GPA or awards. Do you even know if your co-worker was an A student? Or if the man at church was the star football player in high school? No, not normally, because it doesn’t really matter in life. But what our children believe about themselves…now that matters. Let’s be so careful to keep our priorities in order when it comes to the fragile spirits of our kids. Let’s appreciate them for who God made them to be.