I always marvel at the traits that we parents try to discipline out of our children. We don't want children who question us. They should obey quickly without asking for an explanation. We don't want stubborn children. They should let things go and not insist on their own way. We don't want loud or wild children who make messes. They should play quietly without creating chaos. But what if your questioning child was born to lead a revolution, advocate for the oppressed or create social reform? What if your stubborn child could one day be an entrepreneur or CEO persisting in the face of intense obstacles? What if your little tornado is meant to be an artist, an actor, or an engineer?
As a young parent, I began praying an odd little prayer. "God, show me what you see as my child's strengths so I can encourage them. Teach me what you see as my child's weaknesses, so I can help correct them or bolster them up." Then I spent time waiting and listening.
I realized that I didn't know what personality traits in my child might be crucial to their calling. I recognized that some of the things that my children do that drive me batty as a parent could be essential skills they would need to have one day as adults. I didn't want to squash their strengths and praise their weaknesses just because it made my job as a parent a little simpler. I had to acknowledge that, being limited by time as I am, I couldn't presume to know what their futures might require of them.
I don't always hear answers from God in the moments I spend listening, but over the years I've become more sensitive to the awe-inspiring truth that I didn't create my children, and I can't see the full timeline of their lives. Sometimes, just as I'm about to correct my son, I feel a check in my spirit and wait. Other times I feel cautioned about some bit of praise I want to give my daughter. I stop and listen to see what God is trying to teach me about her before I speak.
So, yes, I can almost guarantee that my house is louder and messier than yours. My children feel pretty free to ask me, "Why?" and argue their case. They aren't always disciplined consistently. I may praise one child for something that I actively discourage in another child, because I'm gradually learning who they are, from the God who made them.
Do you have a unique prayer you pray for or about your children? Share it with us in the comments below.
Amy Noel Green is a conference and keynote speaker. She is a writer and game designer who has received international press attention for her work on the video game about her son Joel, That Dragon, Cancer.