From the moment our children begin to walk and talk, we are encouraging them to discover. We want them to interact with the world around them, engage socially with other children and adults, and we teach them how to do this well. When they get a little bit older, we begin looking for activities they might enjoy – ballet, soccer, music, painting – and soon, we can begin to notice what things they show a natural “knack” for. We encourage them to pursue those abilities and rightfully so – don’t we want to inspire our children to do what they love and get better and better at it?
When the teenage years start, it can get a little bit tricky. They start developing ideas of their own, peer pressure can start, and the push for independence is in full swing. This doesn’t mean that you as a parent or guardian should give up on helping them pursue what they’re good at. Their peers might be caving into video games or the pursuit for the latest and greatest piece of technology, and for many teens, this is a real appeal. They want to fit in and be a part of the group, but will their interests and activities be “cool” enough to fit in?
If your kids don’t have the loving support at home that they need to tap into their abilities, there’s a strong likelihood that they will begin dealing with self-esteem issues. The combination of low self-esteem and lack of a supportive home environment can be detrimental. This is when we often see kids trying to escape, whether it’s playing endless hours of video games, turning to drugs or partying, or by letting their grades drop.
Think about your child and the unique abilities that they’ve been given. Are you helping them refine their talents and develop them, or are you letting them give in to what the latest trends are with their peers? Ask yourself: how can you help them unlock and unleash their gifts and abilities so they can be the person that God intended them to be?
By Brooke Strickland and Andrew Doan MD PhD