Monday, June 27, 2016

Nurturing Their Strengths

The last week has been so interesting. The older kiddos were in VBS every afternoon so it was just J, 2 kiddos, & myself pretty much. SO ODD. We did our normal bi-weekly grocery shopping trip. It was so quick & easy. All my kids are honestly really well behaved, but just having to push 2 kids around in a cart who need no bathroom breaks & who's lil' bodies allow us to fit all the groceries into just 1 cart-amazing. When we ran some errands at "The Red Store" on the last afternoon before picking all of the kiddos up, my husband & I just had a deep epiphany. So, this is what it feels like to have just 2 kids or this is a similar feeling to what it would be like if our children went to public school. We truly did get so much done & it was just easy breezy (and a lot more quiet). But I will tell you right now, I will take having all 6 children any day. It was a fun & different experience for a week, but that's all. Getting to experience having 6 children sun up to sun down is just more our speed. Such amazing lil' humans that add so much to our lives & each others'-filled with laughter & love!

Well, moving on to tonight's post-Nurturing Their Strengths.

Children are so different, if you have at least more than one I am sure you can testify. I have 6 different flavors & their has yet to be one child AT ALL like another. Its a beautiful thing! Each child is blessed with different gifts & talents & as parents I think it is so important that early on we discover those talents & gifts they have been blessed with & not only nurture them, but protect them as well.

As I child I loved art, dancing/gymnastics, singing, sports, acting, super friendly & fun once I warmed up to people, & so forth. And I am telling you, very early on the attacks on those strengths began. I was literally 5 or 6 years old when I remember my mom sitting us all down for a coloring project & I started to notice my older sister's looked "so much better than mine". My parents didn't say this, my sister didn't even say this, but I just noticed how perfectly her coloring remained in the lines. I recognized how she colored in perfect patterns while I was a lil' more...creative & carefree with my work. As a 5 year old I didn't stop & think "Well, my sister is a significant amount older than myself & has had many more years to perfect her artistic gift" or "We are just different from each other. She does things 1 way & I do things another way & they are both great because they are so different". My whole life my singing ability was under attack. Once again my sister had a phenomenal voice & was much more bold with it than myself, my vocals were a tad deeper than most girls so I thought something was wrong with my voice & sang less & less. I had different singing leaders make different not so constructive comments about my voice that eventually brought me to a place where I never knew if I would let out a single note again. And the list goes on. My parents did a great job, but my biggest enemy over the years has undoubtedly been-MYSELF. Lack of confidence & perfectionism almost stopped me from fulfilling so many of my dreams & almost robbed me of my destiny. Now, myself a parent, I realize just how important it is to help your children realize their gifts & help nurture them!

My oldest, Aidy, absolutely loves to help. I mean LOVES to help. You know what, that is awesome, but man sometimes so many things would just be so much easier if I could just quickly just do them myself. BUT I have to stop & recognize that passion in her & facilitate it when I can before I unintentionally snuff it out. She also has a huge passion for dancing & early on has set goals for herself to make it to prima ballerina. I want to help her get there, but I am also preparing her that she is her only "competition". She doesn't need to compare herself to others' skill levels or body types. She needs to just be the very best her she can be & try her best. Continually challenge herself to reach higher & further every day. I also want to make sure that she know she is NOT ballet. That does not need to be her identity, it is just something she does. Focusing on her character & keeping her eyes attention on the things that really matter first & foremost will help to make her the best ballerina she can be in the long run.

Asher, my second born, is completely opposite from her oldest sister. Not just in looks, but in personality & passions. Aidann loves to put herself out there & make friends right from the get-go, while Asher is a lil' more quiet & observant in the beginning. Both ways are perfectly fine & neither approach makes one child better than the other. Since they could talk I have always asked them, lets say I was talking to Aussie:

M: "Does mommy want you to be Aidann?"
A; "No"
M: "Does mommy want you to be Asher?"
A: "No"
(and on down the list until finally...)
M: "Who does mommy want you to be?"
A: "The very best Austin I can be!"

Its something so simple, but I hope it starts to help to combat early on comparing themselves to their siblings or resenting their siblings. Refraining from saying "Why can't you be more like....(insert siblings name)?" is also SUPER important.

As a parent I think that actually taking the time to sit down & write out each child's name & listing possibly 4 talents/gifts you have noticed in them & want to help facilitate is an awesome idea-Just being intentional with your parenting & making a conscious effort daily to help start them off in the right direction in life. I even pray over them.

With younger children it will probably take a lil' longer to see their strengths begin to unfold, but even listing just 1 or 2 things you see is a great start. Zye is only 2 years old & I have definitely seen a large desire in him to help & he has a tender & loving heart for others. The lil' things I currently do to try to help facilitate his passion for helping is by having him assist me with the more simple tasks that go into making meals daily, he helps me "hold" the trash can when it needs to go outside, sometimes he helps in getting his lil' brother dressed, & the list goes on. To nurture his heart to give & love on others I have had him help us in collecting stuff for those in need, when someone falls I encourage him to ask if they are "okay?" & help them up, & the list goes on. Just simple things.

Lastly, I want to note that there are some strengths that can be seen as positive or twisted to a negative view as well. The biggest one is probably the "strong willed" trait. A lot of my kids have glimmers of "strong willed" in different areas, but Aidann & Zane take the cake for sure. Now some can try to put negative labels on this trait early on like "sassy", "stubborn", or "difficult". But as a parent you can notice the tendency in your child have a stronger will & directing them towards being a "confident" child, a "determined" child, or a "committed" child. These are all more positive ways to direct a child's tendency to be strong willed. Now I am not saying to just let them do whatever they want & command as they wish in hopes of not dampening their spirit, but fining a healthy balance is a great thing. Let them know there are rules & limits, but when there is a situation that gives them the opportunity to lead a little bit & make decisions, go for it! Facilitate that gift in a positive direction.

Being tender-hearted is another gift that some can try to label negatively. They may see it as more of a weakness than a strength. If you notice this trait in your child early on, I encourage you to embed in them that their big heart is a GREAT THING. Aidy has the most tender & fragile heart I have ever seen. As a parent it actually makes me a lil' leery, because I know how harsh people out there can be. I definitely have been focusing in on her confidence in who she is as a person & her character. When people say things or do things to her that hurt her feelings, the best thing I can do for her is to help her realize that they don't determine your value. They only have as much power as you let them have. She has so much compassion for those out there who are hurting & lost. As her parent, I try my best to provide as many opportunities as I can for her to get out there & really help. "Red Nose Day" this year was a awesome experience for her because she really grasped the true meaning behind it. She is already making big plans for what she wants to do next year & how she can be an impact right now. This sweet gift in her can be used to impact the world & I just want to help in anyway that I can!

Each child is so special & unique & they were put in this world to do some pretty awesome things & make an impact-They are the future! As parents we need to do our best to spot these strengths early on & help to start cultivate these giftings & get them started in the right direction. We also need to try our best to give them the tools to protect these strengths so they don't let themselves get robbed of their potential, destiny, & dreams. I like what my mom teaches her students in Sunday school. "Know who you are, you are a S.T.A.R.! SPECIAL! TALENTED! ABLE! RIGHTEOUS!

-M&M Momma