My kids couldn’t be more different than night and day, black and white, oil and vinegar. I think you get the idea. One takes more after me, and one more after my husband. Sometimes they throw us for a loop by doing something that doesn’t resemble their parent counterpart. That’s when I’m reminded that they are their own person, wonderfully unique in their own ways and that celebrating my children’s differences is key to them growing up secure in who God has made them to be.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14
Celebrate. It’s something that God has challenged me to do as a lifestyle. I’ve realized a very important key in celebrating well: it takes deliberation on my part, a willful act of the mind to shift my thinking from struggle to celebration. The focus becomes less self and more others. There are three practices I’m currently walking out to celebrate my children’s differences.
1. Focus on the who, not the what. Sometimes I get these mixed up when I’m desperate for my son to keep his room clean without me having to nag him. Keeping his room clean is just a life skill that I can continue to teach him with grace and patience, and despite my emotional uprisings, it’s not who he is. If I’m going to celebrate him, I have to separate the two and put aside my frustration. Otherwise, my vision gets clouded, and my celebration words are few.
2. Avoid comparisons. I’ve tried to never compare my kids to each other. Comparison kills their spirits and whittles away at them walking in the confidence of who they are. No parent wants that. Comparison equals bad. Differences equal good.
3. Celebrate who they are publicly. Did you know that when you look up the word “celebrate” in the dictionary that every single definition says it’s a public act? Whether it’s among the family at the dinner table or among a small group of friends, voice the good of who your children are. Maybe it’s pointing out a specific situation and how they handled it or the way they showed love to a sibling. My pre-teen son will sometimes roll his eyes at me, but the grin on his face speaks louder of the love he’s feeling in his soul deep down inside. Though everyone’s different, I’ve never met anyone who didn’t feel some kind of good feeling from public acknowledgment. Public acknowledgment tells everyone that you’re proud of them. I’m proud of my kids and who they are, and I want everyone to know it.
The one thing we don’t want our kids to feel with all of their wonderful differences is that we, as parents, love them any differently. One of my favorite books is I Love You All The Same. It’s a wonderful tale of a family of very different bears, both in looks and interests. They question how they can possibly get along and be in the same family when they are different. Mama and Papa Bear assure them that they love them all the same and that their differences are part of the purpose God put them together as a family. How do you celebrate your children’s differences? I’d love for you to share in the comments below.