What will your child do when she grows up? Who will he become? As parents we have hopes and dreams for our kids, and many fears too—at least I do.
It is tempting to impose expectations on our children's future and steer them down a path that aligns with our own desires. While this is not entirely a bad thing, it can hold our children back from being the person that God created them to be.
Sometimes our fears thwart our efforts in helping our kids succeed.
I once heard it explained that Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it,” might actually refer to helping your child discover their God-given talents.
My tween daughter and I are wired in similar ways. She likes to act, create, dance and cook. However she also likes animals—which is quite unlike me. It is easier to help her grow in areas that interest me, but if I dismiss her animal-loving heart than I am doing her a disservice.
Math, problem-solving and logic are my nine year old’s strong suites. He also likes sports. One day as he was asking, again, to play football—and I was doing my best to redirect him—I realized my fears were usurping my responsibility to help him develop his strengths.
While I really don’t want him to play football, for safety reasons, I need to prayerfully consider helping him spread his wings, even when the fluttering makes me uncomfortable.
My son is also fascinated by the military. Once again, the fears rise in this mama’s heart when I think about the career path he may choose. But as I ponder Proverbs 22:6, I hear this whisper, “What if, instead of fighting the thought of your son being a solider, you helped prepare him to be the best one he can be.”
Isn’t that our calling as parents? To train our kids in the way they should go—even when it’s out of our comfort zone?
I know a young man who is interested in acting, yet he comes from a sports-driven family. It’s challenging for his parents to embrace this talent, but as they foster it he is positioned to shine bright in a dark place. He gains confidence knowing that Dad and Mom are in his corner, and in the audience on opening night.
How do you determine the way your child should go?
1. Pray: Ask God to give you insight to help your child become all that He has created them to be.
2. Listen to what they are interested in: Pay attention to your child’s interests. What kind of things capture their attention? What activities are they drawn to?
3. Ask them: Sometimes we assume we know our child, without directly asking them. Ask intentional questions about their hopes and dreams and try not to edit or brush off their answers.
4. Don’t put them in a box: Not all kids pick one thing, like dance or swimming, and stick with it for the long haul. Expose your child to numerous opportunities to discover their interests.
5. Pray some more: Include your child in the prayer process. Encourage them to seek the Lord about the way they should go. Ultimately, isn’t that what we all want—for our children to follow God’s will for their lives?
As we commit to helping our kids navigate the path ahead, we reassure them that God made them in a wonderful way—even when their path looks different than we expected.
Dear God: Please guide us as we help our children navigate the path that You have for them. We hand over our fears to You. Help us trust You with every part of their lives. Holy Spirit, please give us insight and courage as we parent those You have entrusted to us. Thank You for these precious lives, help us to be good stewards—preparing our children as they spread their wings and find their way in this world. Help us not to hold them back but train and release them according to Your Word and way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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Katie M. Reid is a tightly wound woman who fumbles to receive and extend grace in everyday moments. She delights in her husband, four children and their life in ministry. Through writing, singing, speaking and photography Katie encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life. She has an album, Echoes of My Heart, and is a writer for God-sized Dreams and Purposeful Faith. She blogs at katiemreid.com and can be found on Twitter @Katie_M_Reid