“My business is not to remake myself, but to make the ABSOLUTE BEST of what God has made” -Robert Browning (emphasis mine)
So this will be series of the 7 commandments he discusses in his book. I will be discussing each point and supplement it with my experiences in child raising. I am so far from perfect in raising my kids. Oftentimes I would really just sigh in frustration. Parenting is one tough job, and it can go on for a lifetime. It is not to be taken lightly, as we are called to be stewards to enable lives discover their own potentials, callings, strengths– and help them to become the best persons they are designed to be.
So here is Commandment #1: RESPECT THAT YOUR CHILD IS UNIQUE AND COMPLETE PERSON FROM BIRTH.
Children are not made with cookie cutters. We could not choose their genetic make up, personalities and temperaments. In my case with Ria and Roi, I am faced with so many challenges. For one, they seem to be so different from each other. Both have strong personalities, but Ria is more quiet and withrawn. Roi on the other hand is very extroverted. He would shake strangers’ hands and introduce himself. He is just 5!
Since Roi is a very people person, it is just natural that people would look for him and notice whenever he is not around. Many times I would catch Ria feeling like she is being left out. Since we always see Roi’s work (because he brags about it all the time), Ria would often feel unappreciated.
I don’t want Ria to be hampered and limited because she feels jealous of his younger brother. I want her to soar and discover the potentials she possesses. She has a very unique gift with music. She listens to music and she almost automatically knows what key it is being played. She plays the violin and recorder and would soon learn how to play the piano. She has a deep sense of spirituality. She reads her Bible, prays on her own and asks deep questions about God and spiritual things.
Roi is the complete opposite. All he could think about are aliens, space ships and scorpions that bite the dragon to death. He would day dream about being a knight in shining armor.
It would be wrong to compare their spirituality, abilities and the empasize on the things that they cannot do. It would be right to focus on their strengths. Both kids came to this world with a pair of wings. But they came in different sizes and shapes. It is our job to look into those wings, harness and strengthen them so that our kids can use them and in time, soar.
So here is one good question: Are you more interested in having your child do what you think a “good kid” does rather than what she or he is good at doing? Exactly who is a good kid? Most parents would have answers: he or she does not say anything unless asked. One who finishes his food without left overs. She makes her bed. Thoughtful. The teacher has nothing but praises for him or her. BUT what if our children don’t necessarily have these qualities?
Here is Commandment #2: DEVELOP A POSITIVE LANGUAGE THAT DESCRIBES WHAT YOUR CHILD DOES.
Both my kids love to be praised. Words are very important to them. Oftentimes these praises have to be accompanied by a pat on the shoulders or better yet, a hug. Personally, I grew up in a family that is not really very affectionate. On top of that, verbal abuse could be common especially if we fail our father’s expectations. Not that I blame my parents. They could only give what they received. My father, particularly grew up in a house where his father swore and cursed all the time. His father and grandfather were in the military. They grew up having to obey because of fear.
When I look at old photos, I can see that my father loved to hug us, even my older brothers. But as we grew to be teen agers, I felt like there’s a button that was pressed: The “stop” button for hugging and saying “I love you”. We were already grown ups. No more baby-ing. I could be true, but I cannot imagine doing that to my kids.
I realized, when I entered into puberty I was all the more in need of those hugs. It was not the right time to stop it. In fact, there is no stopping to that, supposedly.
Ok, back to the commandment. Words are important. Look for words to describe how you appreciate your kids. Appreciate their artworks, their music, their creativity (even if it means that your house would be a mess!)– and that “I love you” would definitely build them up. I won’t stop telling it to them, even when they’ll have kids of their own. Hugging and saying “I love you” is not only for babies. Everyone, including me , at my age is in need of one. Words can either build up or tear down. It either encourages or discourages. It can bring either life or death. Choose life.
Black says that as parents, we must pay careful attention on our child’s strengths and abilities. Our children have at least 5 strongest abilities that would serve as their “wings” in flying. Black says that the primary abilities that our children have would be their wings, and their secondary abilities will serve as the feathers that would aid them in the flight. The two should work complimentary with each other.
An interesting quote caught my attention: ”If you worry when your child’s wings don’t work well in every situation, remember… Einstein couldn’t run a four-minute mile.”
I am so interested in this because with Ria, her natural inclination to music and arts have been very evident even as a two-year old. She was so keen to music, melody and even sang a song when she was 2: perfect notes. She is so brilliant with music. With Roi, it is hard to tell what he is really good at. He seem to be inclined with machines and playing lego, but you can tell he is not really patient when it comes to the hard part. ”I don’t know how to do this anymore, it is so hard…” he would comment and leaves his toys behind. Off he goes to another toy.
Just tonight Ria asked me. ”What do you think Roi will be when he grows up?” I said, ” I think he is going to be a singer.” ”No, I am going to be a construction worker,” he snapped. Well… I guess I will have to keep a close watch on what he is really good at… and help him build up those wings and those feathers, to get him flying!