Taking the Time to Know Your Child

In many ways, as parents we are the architect of our children's future. We choose to expose them to this or that and we seek to help them find their place in the world. If we are forever busy and rushed, we may miss the clues that tell us what our children truly love to do and who they want to be. It's not so much that we create them and we discover who they already are. As the parent of six very different children, I've seen first hand how they come into the world their own person, each one unique and precious.

My now adult children like to remind me of something I said or did that I have absolutely no memory of and then watch me be totally surprised and often chagrined. But there is one story that my son, Dane, tells that makes me happy.

We home educated our children so we took care to involve them in activities with other children. Apparently, I had caught wind of a home school orchestra forming so I called out to my son who was playing in the back yard, "If you played an instrument, which one would you like to play?" Naturally, I was thinking trumpet or clarinet or trombone. But he answered, "guitar". He remembers that I got a quick quizical look and then said, "oh, ok." Shortly thereafter he owned a guitar and was enrolled in guitar lessons.

He likes to tell the story because he appreciated the fact that I listened to him and didn't try to sway him toward my original agenda. With the hindsight of knowing he was to become a singer/songwriter that was a golden parenting moment. As they say, big doors swing on little hinges.

Perceiving what our children are interesting in and good at requires slowing down and noticing details about them. Do they love a party or prefer to play alone? Do they tend to worry or are they carefree to a fault? Do they measure their words carefully or blurt out whatever happens to float through their mind? Every person is a deep, multifaceted mystery often hidden from view behind superficial demeanors that we can misinterpret if we are too distracted.

During the daily fifteen minute Exercising Values program, you get to know your child better. Both of you are getting fitter and healthier and both of you are considering what character traits are truly valuable. But within that structure opportunity is opened up to discuss any number of topics that will help you to know each other very well. Your influence is increased because of the time and love you are devoting to these minutes.

Create some memories today that your children can surprise you with later long after you've forgotten. Do it with your full attention and amp up your perception. Give them the gift of wanting to know who they are. Listen, laugh, and enjoy.

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