Monday, June 19, 2006

When Your Child Marches to a Different Drum

From Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado - "Decoding Your Kid's Code"

"A gardener gave a seedling to his friend, the orange grower. 'Consider this a gift.'

An orchestra conductor presented a package to her favorite cellist. 'Just because I appreciate your work,' she told her.

An artist thanked a plumber for his neighborliness by giving him a present.

And so the orange grower, the cellist, and the plumber unwrapped their gifts.

The orange grower planted the seedling, anticipating oranges. After all, he grew oranges, so this must be an orange-tree-to-be. But the plant spread into bushy, clustered branches. The orange grower couldn't coax a single orange out of his grove. He sprinkled it with orange-tree fertilizer, sprayed it with orange-tree bug spray. He even poured orange juice on the soil. But, alas, no oranges. Tomatoes, yes. But oranges, no. He felt like a failure.

The cellist empathized. She had expected a cello. She was somewhat correct. The package contained an accordion. She treated the accordion like a cello, setting the base on the floor and running her bow across the keys. Noise came forth, but no music. She was less than enthused.

As was the plumber. He expected a gift of wrenches and hammers, but he was given a brush and palette. Puzzled, he set out to repair a leaky pipe with his new tools. But brushes don't open valves, and a palette won't tighten joints. He painted the plumbing and grumbled.

The orange grower raised the tomatoes, but preferred oranges.

The cellist made sounds, but not music.

The plumber painted the pipe, but didn't fix it.

Each assumed the gift would be what they knew rather what the giver gave.

Each year God gives millions of parents a gift, a brand-new baby. They tend to expect oranges, cellos, and plumbing tools. Heaven tends to distribute tomatoes, accordions, and paint supplies. Moms and dads face a decision. Make our children in our images? Or release our children to follow their God-given identities?

.The archer arches the weapon, setting his aim on a target. By the time your child is born, God has done the same. He has already "bent" your child in a certain direction. He hands you a preset bow that you secure until the day of release. Raise your child in the way "he should go." Read your child's God-designed itinerary. Don't see your child as a blank slate, awaiting your pen, but as a written book awaiting your study.

In every child God places in our arms, there is a bent, a set of characteristics already established. The bent is fixed and determined before he is given over to our care. The child is not, in fact, a pliable piece of clay. He has been set; he has been bent. And the parents who want to train this child correctly will discover that bent!

God prewired your infant. He scripted your toddler's strengths. He set your teen on a trajectory. God gave you an eighteen-year research project. Ask yourself, your spouse, and your friends: what sets this child apart? Childhood tendencies forecast adult abilities. Read them. Discern them. Affirm them. Cheerlead them.

.Pine trees need different soil than oak trees. A cactus thrives in different conditions than a rosebush. What about the soil and the environment of your child? Some kids love to be noticed. Others prefer to hide in the crowd. Some relish deadlines. Others need ample preparation and help. Some do well taking tests. Others excel with the subject, but stumble through exams.

.Don't characterize loners as aloof or crowd seekers as arrogant. They may be living out their story. You've been given a book with no title - read it! A CD with no cover - listen to it! An island with no owner - explore it! Resist the urge to label before you study. Attend carefully to the unique childhood of you child.

.What gives your children satisfaction and pleasure? What makes them say, 'Yes!' Do they love the journey or the goal? Do they like to keep things straight or straighten things out? What thrills one person bothers another. The apostle Peter liked to keep the boat steady while Paul was prone to rock it.

.Learn to love tomatoes, appreciate the sound of an accordion, take art supplies to the canvas, not the sink, and view each child as a book, not to be written, but to be read.

.God doesn't give parents manuscripts to write, but codes to decode. Study your kids while you can. The greatest gift you can give your children is not your riches, but revealing to them their own."

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Max Lucado has a way of telling you things you need to hear in a way that is convicting and liberating at the same time. You can read more of his books here:

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