Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Another resolve that is essential to parenting without regrets is: “I resolve to discover and develop my child’s gifts.” Each of your children was hand-stitched by the Lord with a unique personality and gifts. In Psalm 139:13, the psalmist said, “You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb” (NASB). Your child was woven together by God. His or her physical, emotional, and spiritual bents in life were uniquely created and designed by God. And one key to parenting without regrets is to develop and maximize your child’s uniqueness.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” This is not a promise that if you parent correctly, your child will never rebel. Instead, it means to train up each child according to his or her unique bent in life. If your child is a natural-born athlete, then don’t try to turn him into a musician. Train your kids in the unique way God created them. How do you do that? Let me mention several keys.
First of all, ask the right questions about your child. Do you really know your child? Could you answer questions such as, “Who are my children’s heroes? What gives my child energy? What are my child’s greatest dreams in life?” Ask the right questions to discover your child’s unique bent.
Second, help your children realize their bent. One thing I appreciate about my parents is their willingness to sacrifice time and finances to help me discover my bent. One day I asked, “Dad, could I learn how to play the accordion?” He said, “Sure.” My parents hauled me all over Dallas to take accordion lessons and perform. That was my unique bent and it gave me skills later on to be able to stand up before an audience.
Third, accept the results. There will come a time when you realize your child may not follow the exact path you had envisioned for them. Instead of trying to force your child to fit the mold you created for them, the key to parenting without regrets is to help them maximize their own gifts. We went through that with our younger daughter. When she was seventeen, her dream was to go to Broadway. Amy and I asked, “Why don’t you care more about school?” But that is her unique bent. So I finally said, “If that is what you want to do, then I will help you in any way I can.” The key to parenting without regrets is to be able to say at the end of your parenting years, “I discovered, accepted, and maximized my child’s unique, God-given personality.”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Living without Parenting Regrets” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.