As parents it’s so important to see each one of our children as unique and special in their own right. I wasn’t always good at drawing these unique qualities out in my children. I remember the comments I would make, how one or the other was like Rob or myself or even like one of my siblings. Now, there is nothing wrong with that, however, I believe I did it too much in the early days, which, I believe, can unintentionally devalue their uniqueness.
Whilst there will always be characteristics our children will inherit through our complex DNA, over time I have learned that it is important to focus more on the person that they are, unique and wonderful, rather than on who they share a likeness to.
A few years ago, at Little Miracles, there was a child that made a statement that has stayed with me. He said, “I am the boss of my own name.’ I recall him saying that and I instantly loved the strong statement and the fact that he simply knew who he was and there was no question or space to question him. He was the boss of his name.
I pondered this at the time, and still do. It reminds me of something I have read through scripture whereby it is written that we are all ‘God’s masterpiece’. What a beautiful thought – we are a true masterpiece, which would suggest we are all originals, and although we may share traits and characteristics, we are originals. I think about the art world, and how the original is always of more value and is desired greatly. This is true about us, and our children. The original is where the beauty and truth lie and it’s important to remember that it is the original, which attracts the attention, not the copy or the similar one.
As I said above, in the early days, I spoke over my children about how much they resembled others in our family. Additionally, my four children have always been told (by others) how much they all look alike. Over the years there have been many occasions where people have glanced and mistaken Ben and Michael for one another. Yes, they resemble each other greatly yet I realise how truly unique they all are. None of them are the same and all have amazing features and qualities that are so special and make up who they are as individuals. In all of our individual uniqueness we compliment the unity that we know as family. I’m sure many of you have come to understand this as well. Although your child/ren resemble either you, your partner, your parents or siblings or one another, we are quick to learn that there is so much more to a person that the similarities. In fact, as I said above, it is their originality that makes them unique and wonderful and completely them.
As a grandparent I see the resemblances run through the family line. It’s actually amazing to watch.
Like the little boy who blessed us at Little Miracles, with the confidence of being the boss of his name, it is so important that we all speak to your child about their unique qualities and help them recognise the beauty of them for themselves. We need to celebrate them. As I said earlier, I haven’t always been good at this, but all is not lost, I learned along the way to be better at it and have become very deliberate about it. Over the years of parenting, I have learned that we will never get it right all the time; however, we can always learn and put our new learning’s into place.
In this regard, I’d like to share a few observations from my own life and raising children with you:
Ben was always a natural at long distant running, surfing, reading people and truly engaging with people. He also had a huge imagination and as an adult this imagination has helped him invent and create. As a child, it definitely kept me on my toes.
Anna was always good at making sure everyone was looked after and no one was treated unfairly. As a teenager she was always amazing with children and able to relate to them in a special way. This of course is a huge asset in Childcare. Anna is also very creative and loves to create with children.
Michael was always very good at soccer, surfing and most sports. He always had a natural ability to work out how things were put together and how they worked. He didn’t read instructions, I just gave him whatever and he worked it out. This always came in very handy, as Rob was never a handyman around the house. Thank God for Michael.
Daniel has always had a great discernment when it comes to people, he can smell out a fake from a mile away. He is a great listener, he has less to say, however when he speaks wisdom spills from him and he is captivating. He too loves his sport and is good across the board.
I share this with you because I’ve learned that as parents Rob and I became very deliberate at seeking to understand and recognise each child’s uniqueness and celebrate it with them. This takes time, listening, observing and lots of patience. Then, once you’ve figured them out, it takes helping them develop by taking them to the sports, acting classes, sometimes to Sydney or beyond for activities.
Learning how to cheer them on with out pushing them too far is all part of it too. When they learn as children how valuable they and how unique they are, the will be more confident and they will be in a place where they will be able to value other children’s uniqueness.
Your child is the original, celebrate that, don’t try and make them what they aren’t or what you feel comfortable with them being. Don’t live your dreams through them, look listen and learn what makes them unique and draw it out of them, champion them on to be their own masterpiece, a one off that no one can copy. Example this for them, do al you can to be happy with who you are and this may mean some good thinking, perhaps even talking to a professional and getting some counselling so you can sort out some of your baggage, if you have any. Be free to be you and celebrate the uniqueness of the individuals in your home. Let the unique in all be the ingredients that shape the culture of your family.
Ben, Anna, Michael and Daniel have always been told they can achieve anything if they desire, each one of their spouses are told that same thing by Rob and myself and now we are cheering on our ten grandchildren.
A few tips for the journey:
1) Find what they love, encourage them before they become really good at it, stretch them, empower them, expose them to ways of developing these gifts they were born with.
2) Take them out of their comfort zones whilst still being their safety net.
3) Show them how much you value their uniqueness and how it helps to complement your family.
4) Talk to your extended family and ask them to celebrate and encourage your children. The more confirmation the more confidence they will experience. If you don’t have extended family that can go this I am sure you have friends who can.
5) Tell their preschool teacher and school teacher the unique gifts you see your child having and watch them start to recognise it and may be even be able to point out more to you that they have observed.
6) Believe in your child’s uniqueness, speak it into them and over them, be genuine, not pushy but always celebrate it.
7) Remember we are all God’s masterpiece, a one off, of huge value and can never be repeated even when we have strong qualities we inherit.
8) Be you and set the world on fire, allow your child to be themselves celebrating their uniqueness all the way and watch them make you proud to be their parents as they set their world on fire.
We are all given our uniqueness to add value to our world, family, and friends and beyond. Help them see how their uniqueness is needed and how it makes a difference to them and everyone else when they live it out.