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Finding Your Child's Gifts

August 6, 2014

Each person is unique. Each person has a gift like no other. As parents we want to maximize these gifts so our children can reach their potential. So how do you find your children’s talents and gifts?

Exposure

Sometimes as parents we try to steer our children into our interests. After all, if I like this surely they will too. That is a starting point. But I’ve learned that, despite my interest, writing will never be my boys’ first love---or even their last. I motivated one son to practice cursive writing so he could sign his pay checks when he finally earned one. (I think he’s still waiting for that time as he now has direct deposit for his pay check, so he doesn’t have to sign anything.)

Find their passion

When I asked the boys how we found their gifts, one of the boys responded: “I chose the work that took the least effort. That became my gift.”

Mucking out the barn stalls and milking at 5:30 AM wasn’t work for him, because he enjoyed it and his heart was in it. If I had made another son, and I did, muck out the barn, you would have thought that I was killing him.

We have animals. We have learned some of our boys do better with things that don’t breathe, they can fix them and leave them—whereas others nurture animals and find pleasure in the daily feeding chores. How did we figure this out? We just tried it.

With animals came pens, fences, and food. The boys helped build those things, grow or find their food, maintain their water. That enabled other skills and gifts to be developed.

Our garden identified other interests. Most complained about weeding. But some appreciated the harvest and found pleasure in making the rows look straight. For one, it is pleasure that goes heart deep. That is his gift.

Other gifts uncovered included the joy of seeing and hearing a moving engine. We purchased dirt bikes. One son took it apart and put it back together again.

We needed our pond scraped and our driveway leveled. We rented equipment to do that.  One son excelled in moving dirt, as long as it was with a machine and not a shovel.

One son, I couldn’t entice him to read fiction for his literature class, but he would read technical manuals of how things worked. We found his gift.

Find what they hate and then look elsewhere

Some jobs, like cement working, helped the boys appreciate what it takes for a good looking sidewalk. And that they don’t want to do that for a living.

All the boys helped to raise pigs, but my husband gave the foreman job to different boys. One son asked to do it all by himself. He bribed, paid or solicited help when he wasn’t home to care for them. He tried inexpensive grain to gain profits, but less protein brought new problems. One escapee pig lurked around my front or back door of the house--coming inside when not watched. My son learned. He moved on. He was finished with pigs.

The next year came and the next son was excited to raise pigs. He studied how to build a grain bin, acquired one, built it, filled it and was ready for the pigs. He learned from previous problems, bought bigger pigs, found committed buyers and recorded everything. I didn’t even notice the pigs--no smells during mealtime, no loose pigs in the house. One of his gifts was also business.

Trial and error

Will they like this? Don’t know until they try it. And sometimes what they didn’t like when they were little, they try again later and tell me, “Why was this so hard before? It’s not so bad now.”

When my older son was ten, I told my husband that we needed to talk. My son had asked for several years to have a horse. I’m not a horse person. I knew nothing about horses. All I knew was that they were big and couldn’t be eaten if they didn’t obey. We bought a horse. I never regretted the decision. Several boys have grown to manhood by the responsibilities learned from training, riding, and caring for the horses that we have. Do I ride them? Absolutely not. I sat on one one time--I felt like I was sitting on a roof ready to topple over. Does riding horses look nice? From a distance where I could write about the freedom they must feel as the wind whips through their shirts. But that is their gift. That is their interest.

Modeling

Some exposure came through modeling. The older boys paved the way for the younger boys to experience things earlier. The lawn care business started with our second and third boys--their reputation follows to the younger ones.

Opportunities

City life differs from country life. The opportunities are different but not diminished. There’s always something needing to be done in the country at our own house--in the city, you may have to reach out to your neighbors to find how you can serve them or how they can mentor your child in a skill that they have. Do you know what your neighbors do? Have a grandfather that’s a carpenter? Search for ways to stretch your children.

TV is not an option for our boys. We don’t have one. They must find something to do or I will find a job for them. If the word ‘bored’ passes their lips, they have a job. Extra time allows you to see what they like.

Service

Notice that the exposure was not always entertainment. They worked with a purpose. They found achievement and accomplishment. The entertainment did not outweigh the service. Something was accomplished. Boys need a reason, a purpose.

So, we’ve found their interests, their gifts, their talents. Now what?

Thanks for asking! That’ll be for next time.



Please share how you've found your child's gifts with other readers.

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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