My son Ian recently found a new program called Google Sketch Up. It was a free download that enabled him to learn how to design 3D pictures of houses and buildings. Ian started developing a passion for houses a couple of years ago, and he has been drawing one dimensional house plans for about a year.
After we downloaded Google Sketch Up, we watched a few beginner tutorials together so he could learn some basics of the program. I told him to practice and design his first house for me. I can barely describe to you the excitement he felt when he completed his first house. He literally jumped into my arms and gave me a big hug. He was so incredibly proud of what he had accomplished.
Helping your children tap into their passions and their talents is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children. It helps your children connect to the essence of who God designed them to be. There is no greater self esteem booster than to know who you are, and be passionate about what you have to offer the world.
As youngsters, it’s not always that easy to know what their gifts and passions are. Here are five ways to help make that process simpler.
Expose your children to a variety of different activities
Do your best not to limit your children to what is comfortable and familiar to you. If you grew up playing sports, it’s natural to get your children involved in sports, but that may not be their interest or gift. Try other activities as well. Search your local community for activities that may be available. Open your mind and your child’s mind to lots of possibilities. Jackie Evancho’s parents had no idea she was a talented opera singer until they took her to see The Phantom of the Opera. Jackie’s passion to sing, mixed with her amazing talent, grew from one choice to go see a movie in the theater.
Stay tuned into your child’s world
Listen to whatever your children might be telling you regarding their interests. Children will talk incessantly about what interests them. Even if it doesn’t interest you, listen anyway. I bet I know more about exotic cars than most moms out there.
And listen to what your children are saying about what they don’t like. If they don’t like sports or music, they have given you valuable information about themselves. Listen to the subtle clues you receive as well. A child that loathes practicing music is probably not very interested in playing an instrument.
My son Kai hated practicing his saxophone, and eventually he stopped playing. But he loves music. Today he expresses his music through DJing. He has a mixing board, and he will spend hours mixing songs and playing music. You don’t have to ask him to practice that. He does it because he loves it.
Encourage your child’s gifts and passions
I have heard so many stories of parents throwing a wet blanket over their child’s dreams because they didn’t see the dream as a viable option in life. Don’t be the one to squelch your child’s dreams and passions.
Even if their passions seem so unrealistic, let them dream and follow their heart. You don’t know where God will lead them. My older son Kai wanted to be a professional baseball player for years. He was talented, but not talented enough. We continued to encourage him, but eventually he realized on his own that his dream would not happen.
Today, he is still passionate about sports and wants to be an orthopedic surgeon. We have yet to see where God is going to lead him.
Don’t be afraid to let something go
Your child may try different activities for awhile, and then decide he or she doesn’t like them. Even if your child excels at an activity, it is okay to let that activity go. Unless you notice a chronic habit of starting and stopping, it is totally okay to try things out and find out it’s not your cup of tea.
Tell your child he needs to finish out the activity or the semester, and then he can quit. This shows your children that they need to keep a commitment that they make, and not waste money. Finish up the activity, with no questions or pressure, and move on.
Let your child take the lead
It’s always a good idea to let your child take the lead when it comes to choosing her passions and talents. Your role is to be her coach or guide. You can make suggestions based on what you are seeing and hearing from your child. You can encourage your child’s talents and passions and expose your child to different activities. However, it’s up to your child to know whether he wants to participate on a long term basis or not.
Each of your children is a unique individual, designed perfectly by God. They have their own set of talents and passions that will grow, and eventually be a gift given to this world in some fashion. Unless your child finds what makes her uniquely her, she will not be happy and living a life of fulfillment and purpose.
As parents, it is a gift to help our children find their talents and passions.