From a 2020 new-year conversation with my two-decades’ best friend from high school, it dawned on me that parenting has come with extra gracing for me as it should for parents the world over. My bestie, in a WhatsApp chat commented that I am good with parenting my kids – and while it has not been easy at all, it made me reflect on parenting choices and tools I have used in my 17-years of parenting.
In 2008, when my daughter was about 5 years old, I made a deliberate decision to learn more (through books and parents ahead of me then) on how to become a better mom for my child. I bought three books – Pat William’s Coaching Your Kids to be Leaders (The Keys to Unlocking Their Potential) and Robert Wolgemuth’s The Most Important Place on Earth (What a Christian Home Looks Like and How to Build One) from CLC Kenya, my employer then as well as Dr. Kevin Leman’s Home Court Advantage (Preparing Your Children to be Winners in Life) from Keswick Books & Gifts, a sister bookshop.
The objective was to give my daughter the best possible training I could manage and afford. And so I needed our home to be a training ground for her as opposed to pushing all the responsibility to other members of the society (teachers, pastors, children’s church teachers, nannies, relatives, friends etc). While these people have played a significant role in her upbringing, I am glad that I had a great share in that training. I needed to give her home court advantage.
According to Wikipedia, in team sports, the term home advantage – also called home–court advantage among other names, describes the benefit that the home team is said to gain over the visiting team. In this case, the visiting team would be the world and its systems.
Home Court Advantage book by Dr. Kevin Leman equipped me as a mom on how to prepare my child to be a winner in life over a decade ago. In summary, the book starts you off by prompting you to define the problem – you cannot have it all. We should not push it by over-parenting our kids. Sometimes we want them to be in as many clubs in school as possible, take up as many extra-curricular activities as possible and sometimes, for the bookworms, take as many tutorial classes as possible. More is not necessarily better. In the stead, focus on what bend your child is taking which is shaped by what God’s calling for that child is.
FOCUS ON YOUR CHILD’S CALLING AND BEND
My husband had a classmate in primary school, who would catch tortoises and carry them to and from school. He would hide the animals in his desk and feed them leaves. When he was discovered by the teachers, he was beaten and told to let the animals go and never to do that again. Indulge me here, if this boy was meant to be a zoologist of some sorts, that calling and bend was squashed and moved him to focus on scoring better in the academic subjects. He is in another profession today, one that puts bread on the table for his family, but one that may not be fulfilling for him.
God created each child (person) with a specific calling and put in them specific giftings and talents to serve humanity. When these are not realized, we end up with individuals who are financially and career-wise successful, but very unfulfilled doing what they do. It’s like fitting a square peg in a round hole. This calling and bend should be identified and encouraged right from home.
HOW CAN A PARENT IDENTIFY A CHILD’S CALLING AND BEND? IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE…
There are many lessons we can learn from the story of Samson. Allow me to focus on parenting lessons for now. (Judges 13)
…but you shall conceive and give birth to a son. Therefore, be careful not to drink wine or [any other] intoxicating drink, and do not eat anything [ceremonially] unclean. For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite [dedicated] to God from birth; and he shall begin to rescue Israel from the hands of the Philistines.
…Then Manoah pleaded with the Lord and said, “O Lord, please let the Man of God whom You sent come again to us and teach us what we are to do for the boy who is to be born.” And God listened to the voice of Manoah; and the Angel of God came again to the woman as she sat in the field, but Manoah her husband was not with her. So the woman ran quickly and told her husband, “Behold, the Man who came to me the other day has appeared to me.” Then Manoah got up and followed his wife, and came to the Man and said to him, “Are you the Man who spoke to this woman?” He said, “I am.” 1And Manoah said, “Now when your words come true, what shall be the boy’s manner of life, and his vocation?” The Angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “The woman must pay attention to everything that I said to her. She may not eat anything that comes from the vine nor drink wine or [any other] intoxicating drink, nor eat anything [ceremonially] unclean. She shall observe everything that I commanded her.”
…So the woman [in due time] gave birth to a son and named him Samson; and the boy grew and the Lord blessed him. And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him at times in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.
God is the ultimate and good Father of all children world over. He then delegates that role to earthly men and women as custodians of His children. In His Fatherly capacity, God has designed a calling for each child – in this case, for Samson was to rescue Israel from its enemies, the Philistines. When Manoah and the wife received the promise of bearing a son, the Angel of the Lord gave specific instructions.
a. The baby was going to be a son (not that sons are necessarily better than daughters – just how God chose the gender of the child in His manifold wisdom).
b. The mother should not drink wine and other intoxicating drinks or eat anything ceremonially unclean (diet).
c. No razor shall come upon his head.
d. He shall be a Nazarite (dedicated) to God from birth.
e. He shall rescue Israel from the Philistines (calling).
Manoah then asked God a very pertinent question that every parent must ask God – how should we raise the boy? What shall be the boy’s manner of life and what shall be his vocation? Everything that Samson did was by the power of God as predestined by God before his conception and birth. This is the same for every child born (Psalms 139:13, Jeremiah 1:5, Isaiah 49:5, Galatians 1:15)
So the first step for every parent is to ask the creator of the child – HOW SHOULD WE RAISE THIS CHILD GOD?
Parents greatly influence the direction that children take in life. Would we allow to work with God to ensure our children do the specific purpose that God ordained for them before they were conceived? Samson’s parents did not cut his hair in obedience to what the Angel of the Lord had instructed them. Then they instilled the faith in Samson, such that even after he was a grown man, he kept the razor away from his head.
For us today, this includes asking the Lord which school should our child go to, what activities should he engage in, which church community should we attend for his/her sake, what environments does our child need to be in? The pressure is always for us as parents to go with the flow – many kids nowadays are doing piano classes, or football, or the arts or this prestigious school or something else that has been popularized in our communities. The question to ask yourself is, what is absolute necessity for your child’s realization of their purpose and calling? That is what you MUST do. And the Lord hears our prayers, if you ask Him earnestly, He will answer.
GIFTINGS AND TALENTS ENABLE THE CALLING AND BEND TO BE REALIZED
As you walk with your child to discover their purpose (which is always unfolding), you will notice their giftings and talents that become tools for the child. Two kids gifted in drawing for instance, may turn out in two very different purposes in life. One might turn out to be an artist, the next Leonardo da Vinci while the other turns out to be an architect, the next Imhotep. The parent of each of these two kids must work with God to identify the purpose and fan the giftings and talents, to enable these two kids to achieve their specific purpose in life.
For us, when we spend time with our kids we are looking at what they really enjoy doing – what comes to them naturally. For our 17 year old, we have encouraged her in different ventures she showed interest in and in what we saw fitted her personality, strengths and minimizes on her weaknesses. She gets sick when someone else starts vomiting and the sight of blood is so depressing for her. While she scores well on academics that can allow her a career in the medical field, it’s fruitless to push such a child to become a doctor, nurse and the likes. On the other hand, she is very keen on enterprise, the arts, drawing, she’s eloquent and has great people skills. So in the past years, we have encouraged activities in this direction.
One of the older women I look up to has two kids, a boy and a girl. I went to her and asked her, how will my daughter’s interests fit in together? She told me, it’s not likely that she will become all the things we have encouraged her in. However, in allowing her interests, we should teach her how to stick with her passions, commit to working hard, continually doing personal development and then allow God to mould her into whatever He desires. Our part is not to make our children to become – that’s God’s part. Our part is to train them in the way they should go – direction (Proverbs 22:6). The God who created the universe, with all the finer details that scientists are still discovering to date, is able to knit everything together for our children.
1. A simple prayer to God this moment, to reveal to us what His purpose for our children is and guide us on how we should uniquely raise each of our children.
2. Spend time with our children, trying to identify their giftings and talents.
3. Try our level best to encourage this purpose, giftings and talents as our children continue to grow up.
4. Allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us as parents, to ensure we do the right (necessary) things while abstaining from the wrong (unnecessary) things and in so doing, offer an enabling environment for God to work in and through our children. Even on the things that are permissible, not everything is beneficial for your children (1 Corinthians 10:23)
My prayer for all parents today, is that the detailed God that created the universe, will give His detailed plan for each of our children so that they walk in their ordained purposes on earth. The God who enabled Manoah and his wife to raise Samson right; the God who enabled Zechariah and Elizabeth to raise John the Baptist right; the God who enabled Joseph and Mary to raise Jesus Christ right. That God, will enable us to raise ours right towards a purpose packed life and make this world a better place.
“God hears our prayers so we confidently go to His throne of Mercy”
In Jesus name. Amen!