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Developing Your Child's Gifts

August 13, 2014

Each person is unique. Each person has a gift like no other.

Last week, I presented ways to help find your child’s gifts. As we saw, exposure to various things helps find your child's gifts, but then those gifts must be developed and strengthened. How do you do that?

Find people to help

Finding people knowledgeable in your children's interests takes energy and networking. Praying for the right person is essential. For the older boys, it took us a long time to find the people who could help them. Now that the older boys know more people than I do, they are able to help network.

We found a mechanic that was willing to allow our son to help as he replaced an engine. Then we assigned the responsibility of changing the oil and tires on the cars and maintenance of the weedwhackers to him.

One son thrives with taxidermy. We happened upon someone willing to teach him. It has developed over time into more than just taxidermy: the instructor has become a mentor for hunting, fishing, and camping, as well as a good friend of the family.

One son had a farrier call him to see if he would be interested in apprenticing with him. Now he’s learning as he earns his tools.

Two of the boys keep bees. We didn’t find the people to help until after they read library books on the subject. Then they knew what to ask and where to go when we did find the people. 

Provide them with what they need

I find myself the facilitator as the boys work to develop their gifts: I ask Dad for permission and money, arrange the schedule, and let them work out the details.

One son loves chickens. I just need to say “yes” to his projects and he will pay for them through his egg selling business, he will have his list of what he needs and he will give me updates (when I remember to ask) of what he is doing. He once asked to have his broody hen sit on eggs to hatch. I told him yes. He asked again two days later. I told him that he already asked and that I had already agreed. He asked again a week later. I started getting upset that we weren’t communicating and told him yes yet again. When he later complained that he wasn’t getting many eggs to sell, I finally asked him how many eggs he had under his hen. He then told me that he had FOUR hens setting on about 50 eggs. That was why he had no eggs to sell. I need to remember to ask for details. 

One son, many years ago, asked for a horse. We tried to substitute with a goat or a cow or something less threatening, but he continued to ask. Finally I told my husband that we needed to talk. (It was in that serious tone that makes men wonder “What did I do now?" What my husband heard next was, “We need a divorce.” What I said was, “Josiah needs a horse.” Guess I should have had my list of things that I wanted ready, because after what he heard he was willing to give me anything.) Josiah finally got his horse. We went a year trying to ride and train it. If I knew then what I know now... We could have killed ourselves doing what we tried to do with that horse. But God certainly protects us in spite of ourselves. And He also gives us what we need: in this case, a trainer for both horse and rider.

Support

One son asks “How does that work?” and takes it apart and then puts it together again to find out. I found a box of physics experiments that he could do. He loves it. When he needs help, I try to act excited to work on the projects too. (Early in our parenting, we purchased an electrical kit. I could not get anyone interested beyond the first experiment so I gave the expensive kit away. Now one of our younger boys asks questions that the kit would have answered. How are you supposed to know?)

Sometimes support takes different forms. I used to work side-by-side with the boys on their projects. One wouldn’t attempt a project unless I sat there and watched. Now, when my boys see me coming to the barn they say, rather quickly, “We got this, Mom. You can go back in the house.” Sometimes support is allowing them to make mistakes without correcting them until they figure it out. (This may cost you.) My husband reminds me that they will figure it out. My part in the ‘figuring it out’ is hard—I must keep my mouth shut.

Several of my sons must learn by trial and error. That is okay. Experiential learners still learn. (Although sometimes, as a mom, I wish this learning wasn’t so hard.)

Each child is different. As they reach manhood, I have watched God sharpen my sons' interests to help channel them into the training they need to better serve Him. And isn't that why He gave them the gifts? 



Encourage others with how you found and support your child's gifts.

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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