Monday, July 9, 2012

Nurturing Their Gifts

A best friend's daughter.  She demonstrated signs of being an extraordinary swimmer at a very young age.  I'm  convinced that because of the fact that her parents have recognized, nurtured and supported her in her gift, that she very well  just might grow up to be an Olympian!  No matter what, and most important, she will grow up knowing that she had the opportunity to discover her talent.

As parents, I think we'd all agree that our children are gifts.  They are our biggest treasures. We had dreams of them before they were even born and we continue to dream for them as they grow. I also think we'd agree that every child is unique.  They are unique in their personalities, interests, and talents.  And I consider it one of my greatest roles as a mother to help my children grow with, discover, and nurture their talents and gifts.  It is up to me to help provide opportunities for them to be their best selves and do what they are most alive doing.  


I don't think we need to look too terribly hard to figure out what our childrens' gifts are.  We don't have to think too long to know what things our children find the most meaning and joy in. Most likely, they will discover what makes their heart sing just through normal daily activities. And then it is up to us to help them continue to find ways to nurture their gifts, talents and make their interests part of their daily life so they can thrive.  


I saw this picture (see above) on facebook today and it made me so happy...So happy to see know this little girl and know how amazingly talented she is at swimming.  Truly gifted.  A natural.  I first saw her swim as a very young child (a toddler) and I was in awe of how naturally her body moved through the water.  More importantly, I noticed how much her little soul was lit up when she was moving in the water.  It gave her joy.  It was as if it was what she was meant to do from the start.  And it has been incredible to watch her grow up, so beautifully use her gifts and develop her talents for swimming.  It has been inspiring to say the least.


But what has been even more inspiring to me is to see how wonderfully this little girl's mom and dad have embraced her gifts and provided opportunities for her to grow in them.  They were/are young parents and like all of us, they don't have all the answers. What they did have from the start is the ability to love, encourage and support their children in their interests.  They recognized their daughter's gift for swimming and they acknowledged the joy and love that radiated from her when she was in the water.  Despite the fact that neither one of them had much experience with the sport of swimming, they knew that it was up to them to nurture this obvious talent and help her grow into her best self.  And that they did!  They gently encouraged her, paid for swim classes, and provided opportunities for her to shine.  It has been so fun to see.  


I've often thought of my friend and her daughter as I raise my children and help nurture their gifts.  I try to listen to what brings them joy and what they are most drawn to rather than what I WANT them to like.  I try my best to provide opportunities for them to grow in their gifts.  This isn't always easy or cost effective, I don't always make the best choices for them, but I'm doing the best I can and I hope that by exposing them to a variety of things and building on the things that they show talents in, that they will grow up to discover themselves fully and wonderfully.  They won't all grow up to be Olympic athletes, famous artists, or nationally recognized ________.  But rather, my hope for my children is that they WILL grow up feeling a sense of joy and awareness of who they are.  I want them to grow up knowing what their gifts are, how to use them and that they were supported and encouraged.  Who knows what a little bit of nurturing and exposure can lead to for them.  At the very least, they will grow up feeling appreciated and supported in the things that make them MOST alive.  


A few questions I ask myself as a mother when it comes to my children and recognizing their gifts:

  • What brings them the greatest joy?
  • What activities/interests are they most drawn to?
  • Am I encouraging and supporting them in the things they are drawn to and enjoy?  Or am putting too much of my own standards and interests into the mix when I decide what direction to push them?  
  • Am I being cognitive of the fact that all of my children are UNIQUE and that they won't all have the same talents, interests, and abilities?  
  • Am I celebrating my children's accomplishments and praising them for their unique ideas and contributions to our family in a way makes them feel loved and valued?  
  • What kind of classes, after school programs, sports and learning opportunities am I seeking out for my kids so that their gifts are being nurtured and they can grow in what brings them the most joy?  
  • Do I provide a wide variety of things for my children to be exposed to?  Even things that I might just assume they won't like?  
I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a mother.  And I knew that with motherhood comes great responsibility and the gift of helping my children grow in their gifts.  I'm far far from perfect in this area but I continue to be inspired by my friends and the kids like this amazing little girl that has been born to swim.  I hope you go far in life Keleigh Shai!  You've been given some pretty special parents to help you soar.  I'm so thankful that I know them.  And you. You are an inspiration.  

1.  What are your children's gifts?  Do they stand out strongly or have you had to help them discover them a bit more? 
2.  How do you help your child grow in their talents and gifts?  
3.  Did you parents  help you discover and use your gifts?  


Amanda

25 comments:

  1. I would like to share this with the parents of my WINGS running club, if you don't mind.

    Your kids are so lucky. :)

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  2. Beautiful post Amanda. I do not have children of my own (yet) but my parents were fantastic about nurturing my talents as a child. I took so much of it for granted growing up but looking back I was so incredibly lucky and I am so thankful to them for allowing me to try so many things.

    You are a great Mom and I absolutely admire how much attention and energy you put in to parenting. So important!

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    1. Thanks Rachelle! I can tell that your parents did such an amazing job just by reading your words and seeing you live your life. We all take our parents for granted at some time in our life...I think. Thank you for your words. :)

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  3. I love this!!
    I can see in my little Milo have an ease and desire to move his body. He can climb like a monkey on anything and he can run and jump so effortlessly. His brother Archimedes is more thoughtful in a different way. He is always coming up with "inventions" and drawing things and he is less inclined to take risks doing things physically. Very cautious.
    I often wish that I could live twice and mother them each in sets of twos instead of the big group of four boys so I could nurture each one more fully but I have to remind myself that there is beauty in a big family too.
    I love your posting on parenting :)

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    1. Aw, thanks Angie. Loved hearing about your kids!! Remind me how many kids you have??

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    2. Okay, that was a stupid question...you have four boys. Sorry for the dumb question since you just wrote it here. This is what I get for commenting really quick while my kids are loudly running around the house. Good to hear from you Angie. xoxo

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    3. haha! No worries :)
      My boys are building castles right now and are being quite loud and boisterous!

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  4. Thank you for this post, such a great reminder to slow down from the busy-ness of life and focus on each child and help them to develop the gifts that God gave them. My daughter has a passion for singing and playing the guitar and my son's passion is swimming, like your friend's daughter. It brings me joy to see them doing what they love. So cool!

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    1. Thanks Beth. You're kids are lucky to have a mom that loves seeing them doing what they love.

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  5. While this post was mainly dedicated to children, it also serves as a reminder to everyone, even adults, to do things that make us happy. We are all so different, yet so talented and it is up to us to show the world that.

    I came across your blog awhile back and love reading your posts...thanks :)

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  6. Two of my three sons were pretty gifted in sports. The third played some sport but it was music that he really loved. He started playing the violin in grade 3 but it just didn't click. When he got to grade 5 he had the opportunity to try percussion and he just loved it. He kept with it till the end of high school. My eldest son still plays soccer, which was his first love. They just seem to find what they love and I learnt to love what they did.

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    1. They are lucky that they had a mom to support them in their interests. Does your third son still play music?

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  7. I love when parents are supportive in that way. I am not a parent so I can't answer that aspect of it but I can say that my parents were awesome. I got to try anything and everything that I wanted to as a kid, with one rule: I must finish the season. I didn't have to do it again if I didn't enjoy it but I couldn't quit during. I tried everything from swimming to karate, gymnastics, dance, soccer, etc. The only thing that I played the majority of my life was soccer. I wouldn't say that I was particularly gifted at any of them but I had fun and I always loved seeing my parents cheer me on. I think that's the best thing a parent can do for a kid... be their #1 fan.

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    1. So cool that you had the parents you did. I hope I can always be their #1 fan...well sad Mallory!

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  8. Oh, Amanda, your kids are blessed...

    With our kiddos almost topping out at 21 years old, I can still see new gifts and talents emerging in them. At this age, they recognize a love for something and chase it on their own but I get so excited and want to cheer them on as well...I hope this never stops for them. I like to see them curious about their own interest as they get older. What's funny is that the gifts and interest they had as little ones are still the things that keep them moving forward NOW so I agree with you, we all need to keep encouraging our kids in their talents, loves and interest...some of these passions are lifelong!
    xoxo

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    1. HI Meg! I think the same thing about your kids...blessed. From what I see, you are a pretty amazing woman...mother, teacher, athlete, etc.

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  9. I have a strong swimmer. It's challenging to balance it all in a "family" of athletes. Forget about just the kids!! ;-) (My husband has joined the masters swim circuit and I obviously run.) Time will tell with my middle and youngest kiddos. I wish my middle son would take to swimming to make it easier logistically, but right now, he is all about basketball! Tough dragging the younger boys to all-day, all-weekend swim meets when they are not swimming.

    With the talent and the drive also comes the unsavory job of teaching sportsmanship and how to handle disappointments gracefully. My oldest had a phenomenal 200 IM, state qualifying PR last weekend at age group regionals but got DQ'd because he didn't do a 2-hand touch off the wall from his breaststroke. He was so upset at the DQ... He snapped at his coach when coach was talking to him afterwards, then snapped at his dad and I, and then he spent a good hour pouting about it all. (((sigh))) The lessons we must teach them in life and all that is sports is truly never ending.

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    1. Wow, sounds like you have a full plate Allison. I don't know how you do it...and still you are an awesome athlete yourself. Great story here...awesome that sports are one way to help them learn these lessons.

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  10. It is something to see talent unfold in a child..and to nurture it.
    For the time being we have really limited our kids as to which activities they can participate in. But I will enjoy it when they can take the opportunity to sprout their wings.

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    1. How cool it will be to see where they fly when they sprout those wings...I'm sure some pretty amazing places. You have such great kids! xoxo

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  11. My kids are only 2 but it has been amazing to see their little talents unfold even at this age. My hope is for them to find their passions and I will help them as much or as little as needed.

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