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Slinky

One of my favorite toys as a child was the slinky.  I’d spend hours sending it climbing down stairs with the familiar slink, slink, slink sound.  The way the rounded wires bent and danced through the air captivated me.

As parents, I think of how opposite we are from the Slinky.  Rigid in our rules, we often try to make everyone fit into the mold we have fashioned.  Sometimes kids feel they have to go to a certain college to please their parents, play certain sports, or act a particular way.  But there is one small problem.

Our kids are not us.  

They were never meant to be us.  They are designed just the way they are to make a special impact in the world. If they were like us, they could not do what they were designed to do.

My Dad was a business man who ran the company his dad passed down to him.  When my brother was born, I suppose he dreamed that one day he would be able to pass the baton to him.  But as Mitch grew up, it was clear that he was made for a different dream.  Though he was very capable of taking over the business, it wasn’t where he was meant to be – where his heart beat strong.

And, true to the character of my father, he was totally okay with Mitch being Mitch.  He is my brother’s biggest cheerleader – always has been.  That is flexibility, and that is acceptance.

Mitch is now living out his dream, thriving in his profession. It is an absolute joy to watch as he steps into all that he was made to do and be.

This year we made a difficult decision to send our middle son to a different school than the other kids in our family. We made a big chart of all of the pros and cons of each school option, and ultimately decided that our son’s personality and spirit better fit the other school.

cookie.cutterBecause kids are not cookie cutters.  And we are wise, as their parents, to treat them as individuals who have unique needs, gifts, and passions.

One of the best ways we can help our children step into their unique identity is to pay attention to who they are and what makes them light up.  Then, nurture those.

One of my sons is a fantastic writer.  I am continually looking for workshops, contests, and books that will help him in his craft.  I read books he loves so we can talk about plot development and characterization.  This encourages him in his writing, but it also bonds us.  It means a lot to him when I take an interest in what he enjoys.

The next time you are struggling with one of your kids going his or her own way, remember the Slinky.  Ask yourself, “How can I be flexible right now?  How can I embrace how this child is unique, different from me, and let go of expectations that may not be fair?”

Dare #28:

Notice one special gift or trait in one of your children

{that is different than you}.  

Make a specific move to nurture that part of your child.

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