Do we ever try to stuff our square children into a round peg?
We live in a world that delights in conformity. Do what is expected. Don’t stand out. Learn to fit in.
Peer Pressure to do what everyone else does, to behave as others have learned to behave.
Once, during the high school years, when one of my children brought home a whole gaggle of kids for “hanging around at our house,” they all gathered around me in the kitchen as I served up hot cookies and popcorn. (During those years, I would do anything to bribe my children’s friends to be at my house.)
Conversations ebbed and flowed. The kids were talking about one of the kids at a class that just didn’t fit in with everyone else.
He said, “I think all the rest of us learned to avoid sticking out or bringing attention to ourselves when we were in third grade. We knew that to stick out in the crowd would only bring a crowd of kids making fun of us–and no one wanted to be noticed in front of the crowd of other kids.“
The other kids shook their heads in agreement.
How sad, I thought. To think that the God who made each snow flake totally different, each fingerprint varied and individual, would ever want his best creations–human beings, made in his image–to fit in and become robotic in their behavior.
And yet, I see parents, all the time, looking for a formula–a one size fits all sort of solution to stuff their children into to make their lives more manageable. Parents compare their children to others and try to make their children conform.
“Jan’s child started reading when she was four. Robin’s 8 year old knows all of his multiplication tables. Everyone else has their children in piano or soccer or or or, so I think our children must need that.”
“This family doesn’t listen to that kind of music–maybe we shouldn’t. That family’s kids are all more quiet than our kids.”
If adults are performing to live up to cultural expectations and to please the voice of others, how will the children ever learn to stand on their own convictions and to listen to the voice of God–even if it is against cultural standards?
Children who are trained to conform to the expectations of others in culture, are not as quick to ask become heroes, to become inventors or to accept the role of a prophet in a culture that needs to change.
Albert Einstein was one of the most brilliant thinkers of his time. His name is synonymous with the word “genius.” Yet, as a baby, his head was so large and misshapen, his mother thought he was deformed. As a child, he had a speech defect. He failed his college entrance exam. What vast potential lay dormant in the life and mind of this brilliant scientist, until the time when His powers of thought culminated in life-changing scientific discoveries.
And so it is with our children. Each of them is unique and qualified differently for performing in life. How blessed is the child whose mother looks for the unique design and personality, who looks for the spark of interest her children show in different subjects; who asks for the Holy Spirit to show her the place this child was crafted to invest his life for God’s glory.
I once read an article that suggested that each child had the capacity to become a genius in some area. Having read this one bit of information changed the way I looked at my children their whole lives. I did not focus on what they could not do, but sought to help them find out what they were made to do. Each child learned at his own pace and excelled in different areas. Each was validated for his or her own design.
Faith is required to allow a child to pursue those skills and interests that delight his heart, but strength is found when the authority of a child to shape his destiny is freed to full potential by the loving, accepting and nurturing environment in a home that is alive with His spirit.
Legalism and conformity kills the spirit. Grace, faith and acceptance sets free.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed, by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:1
Comparing children to each other deflates their sense of self and flattens their interest and creativity in life. When we see the differences and diverse strengths and unique expressions of our children in the days of our lives and seek to facilitate these differences, perhaps we might just be setting an Einstein free to live, not in conformity, but to invest his life in producing something the world is hungering to receive.
God did not make any mistakes when He created our children. Each child is fearfully and wonderfully made. Consequently, when we accept them as the gift from God he meant us to have, and if we love, pray for them, validate them as He made them, it will become a part of the soul-shaping, wisdom of life He intended for us. We learn wisdom in life by leaning in to His will and ways–and part of that is in accepting the children He gave us as they are.
Today, celebrate the differences, look for the genius and watch the life of God filling your home.
In light of this subject, I know you will enjoy reading Clay’s article about the cost of raising an artistic child–how we survived raising children, and in this case Nathan, who listened to the beat of a different drummer.
(Storywarren.com–a great blog to inspire parents) Enjoy!