See children’s talents as gifts from God. Denise and Arthur, parents of three children ages 4 to 11, keep guidelines in mind as they choose activities for their kids. “The younger the child, the more time with us. The older the child, the more time with others and making decisions on how to balance time,” Denise says. “If we miss signing them up for something for which they have a real talent, we are not going to stress over this. We believe God is generous and gives us more talents and gifts than we can ever really use.”
Parents who feel they may never say no to their children’s desire to join one more sport or activity are at risk for a frenetic family life that damages parents and children alike. The responsibility of parenting a gifted artist or athlete includes helping the child develop a sense of stewardship regarding his or her gift.
John and Anne, parents of four, take this approach. “We value making choices, and weighing value. We try to discern what God’s will is for our time and talent—who is served by what we do,” says Anne.
Listening to kids—and teaching them to listen to themselves. Parents of middle-schoolers and teens need to begin to nudge their children toward their own decision-making but also keep an eye on the child’s physical, emotional, and mental health.
“What has kept our daughters in certain activities and out of others has been their desire, enjoyment, and level of skill and interest,” says Pam, mother of two. “We have watched as friends have chosen a state cup soccer game over a graduation, and we have not agreed with those choices. I think parents get so caught up that their child gets to a high-level team that they accept Sunday morning games, tremendous expenses, and family stress to maintain that status. Our place of peace has come from asking, ‘At what price?’ ”
Maria, mother of two teens, says, “When my kids have approached me with ideas, I try to listen to them and ascertain what’s in it for them before I clobber it with any of my preconceived notions, anxieties, or hesitations. I love watching my kids become who they want to be without me putting a handprint on it.“ (Here’s part one of this article.)
—by Annemarie Scobey, from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the 2013 Best in Class award from the Associated Church Press, as well as a First Place General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association for the past three years running. Here’s a sample issue.
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