My firstborn is getting older, bringing new experiences for both of us—lately it’s everything from t-ball to theater. My guy is incredibly creative, making up stories and songs that rival those of literary and music giants. And when it comes to athletics, well, the dude was walking by nine months and has a swing I bet even Babe Ruth would nod with approval over. It is obvious I am incredibly humble about his budding gifts. Part of the challenge in sharing about my children is knowing I have to speak honestly, praying my intended message is not drowned out by parental pride. Trust me when I say I tread lightly in what I share with my own kids, and how I share it. I do not want to inflate little egos that will need a good popping down the road. That is never fun. As my children grow in their God-given inclinations, so does my need to think before I speak. As parents, we must wisely dispense information that will help their growth and hone their gifts, while hopefully keeping them humble. In thinking through my own past, I am making a concerted effort to do a few simple things to cultivate confidence and build bravery.
- Encourage Often. Never Force. Encourage your children (and yourself) to try new things when you recognize areas of potential giftings. My son, whose facial expressions and mannerisms are worthy of the stage, says he is “too scared to speak in front of people.” I do not want to force anything on him, but I do want him to try new things and build bravery! He is a knight in training, after all. I recently told him, “Everyone is scared, and that’s why most people sit in the audience. It takes someone—anyone—to be brave enough to stand on the stage and encourage everyone else.” And with those simple words of affirmation, he not only got on stage—he never looked an ounce of timid in delivering line after line. When encouraging, help your children see the big picture and how they fit into it. But if your attempts fail, respect their “no” and never force a situation.
- Get Out of the Way. Your child’s dreams are not yours. Now say it out loud. My child’s dreams are not mine. Too many parents live vicariously through their children. In the end, there are many heads that need deflated and hearts that need mended. Kids know whether or not you are doing something for their benefit or yours. We all want the best for our children, but the best needs to remain in line with God’s will, not ours!
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
- Humble Yourself. There is nothing sadder than knowing a child has a desire to be an artist (insert any career path here) but a parent insists on speaking words of death over that child’s dreams. No, parents do not intend to speak destruction, as they typically think they know best. But by telling your child his or her dreams are “pie in the sky” or “not a valuable skill,” you are liable to get a 35-year-old who may be financially prospering but emotionally and spiritually stunted. Help your children discover their God-given dreams. Recognize that your children are completely distinct from you, and encourage them in the areas in which they desire to grow—for their sake, and yours.
And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, so that in due time He may exalt you. (1 Peter 5:5-6)
- There is a fine line between confidence and cockiness. This little gem has stuck with me since I was a child. My parents drilled it into us, without even meaning to. There are many talented people—but more often than not, people fail to recognize they only have certain gifts because they were endowed by God. When speaking to our children (and anyone, for that matter), we must always remind them that, while they possess qualities surpassing the average, it is because God gave them those abilities. And God can take them away without warning. So, do not get wrapped up in what you do, because it is not who you are.
It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. (2 Corinthians 3:5)
Some people are born brave, confidently approaching all they do, but many others need encouragement to embrace who God crafted them to be. Part of your role as a parent is to offer insight, which can be intimidating for some. More often than not, the valuable insight only you can provide is not gained from a conference you attended, but from a life experience you went through. Do some soul-searching and discover the things that helped you grow in your uniqueness. What made you brave? What left wounds in your heart? Dig deep and go from there. When your children want to explore something, even if you see no value there, let them spread their wings, earn their battle stripes, and soar to new heights. With Jesus as your anchor, you can give them a steady footing as they go forward in confidence.
In Christ Alone,
Gabbie Nolen-Fratantoni loves Jesus and is passionate about serving him through the arts by leading worship and writing for various ministries. She is married to Greg, her hard-working, iron-sharpening-iron spouse. They are opposite in personality but equal in dedication to their marriage and family. Gabbie and Greg are the proud and sleep-deprived parents of two active, sweet, and fun boys and recently welcomed the arrival of their first little girl. An Aggie and graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Gabbie is a small-town country girl trapped in the city and loves getting to know people and encouraging them as they seek to know Jesus and make him known.
For more resources, links, and to engage with other parents, cick HERE and join our closed Facebook group.