If I have one rule as a parent, it is this: Know Your Children. I am not, and hope never to be, a one-size-fits-all parent. Perhaps this is because my children are each so different from one another. When B was little, I quickly found that discipline methods that worked with first-born A were not going to do the trick with her bolder, second-born sister. Yet even if my children were more similar in their styles and needs, I think I would still make it my mission to know them well. Partly because I think this is the only way I know to parent well and partly because this is what delights me most: seeing them turn into people I never could have imagined. I have always loved learning and being a student: my job now is to study my children and help them become who they are meant to be. Thankfully, I have wise and thoughtful friends who are similarly committed to knowing their children.
(As an aside, are any two children really alike? I have a theory that God makes our children so different from one another so that we can love them equally. If I had three daughters similar in nature and aspect, it would be difficult to love them well. It is their very uniqueness that enables me to love them freely and equally.)
I not only want to know who my daughters are, I want them to know who they are. This may sound simple, but I think the world does a great job of confusing us about this. It throws obstacles at us, forces lenses over our eyes and distracts us with minor details that prevent us from seeing the whole beautiful picture of who we are. In an effort to help my daughters see themselves, a few years ago I started a small tradition of making my final Christmas gift a list. Haven't you always wanted a list for Christmas? Each girl gets a list of adjectives describing her. The list's length is determined by their age.
This year brought challenges and changes for each of my daughters, so I thought carefully about what I've seen in them before offering them the following:
AThis year I tried to include a few qualities that are both blessings and burdens for my daughters. It is good that A thinks things through, but that can become a burden when she plays an endless loop over and over in her mind. This is something I am not so good at: showing my children where they fall short. I am much more naturally an encourager than a coach. I am more apt to gloss over a deficiency than shine a light on it and help my daughters see it more clearly. Sadly, with myself the opposite is true.
Thinker (and sometimes over-thinker)
Aware of others' needs (sometimes)
Willing to try new things
Cares for others' needs
I turned 40 a few weeks ago and I think what I want most for this new decade of my life is self-knowledge. I'd like to understand my capabilities and true self better than I do today. I'd like to see myself without the various sets of glasses I've acquired over the years: those glasses that tell me who I should be or who someone wants me to be, but that distort my vision and prevent me from seeing myself truly.
So who am I? Feel free to offer your own word or two. I would consider it a gift.