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The article below was written by Matthew Paul Turner, author of the newly released best-selling children’s book, When God Made You. He and his wife, Jessica, live with their three children in Nashville, Tenn.
As the father of three children, one of my greatest joys has been seeing each of my kids discover their talents.
Though my youngest, Ezra, is only two and just beginning to explore all of the facets of how God designed his unique abilities, I’ve already sensed an inclination toward music, melody, and rhythm.
My oldest child, Elias, is my curious young thinker. He loves reading, solving riddles, and exploring fascinating facts. God has instilled him with an uncanny love for detail-oriented hobbies such as card stacking, rock tumbling, and other creative expressions that involve a certain amount of order and process. He’s also developed some fancy footwork on the soccer field.
And then there’s Adeline, my very expressive middle child, a creative soul whose life’s passions include coloring, painting, drawing, singing, dancing, and making up songs about the thoughts and ideas that happen to wander into her brilliant young mind.
At least, a few times a week, Adeline will ask, "Daddy, can I sing my new song for you?" Just last week, I listened to her perform songs about butterflies, sea horses, her kindergarten class schedule, and a rather catchy tune about why she wanted it to stop raining.
More than anything in the world, I love watching my kids showcase their God-given talents. I love hearing Adeline sing or watching her mix colors in order to create the perfect shade of purple. When Elias is on the soccer field or proud of a card castle he’s created, my heard explodes. And when Ezra bops his head to a beat or sings nonsensical words to a familiar tune, I am all grins.
Watching God’s imaginative design show up in the lives of my children is not only something I love, it’s something I’ve learned to anticipate and proactively encourage. My wife, Jessica, and I both believe that one of the most important aspects of parenting is to help each of our kids realize what talents and interests God has instilled in them and how they might use these gifts to help make the world better. Here are a few ideas that might help you encourage your kids’ creative spirits.
Give them options. When kids are young, offer them a variety of activities to explore. Don’t simply gravitate toward things that you like. Be open and creative in what you put in front of your kids, from painting and music to athletics and dance to experiences with nature, people, and art. We learn from experiences, and nothing spark’s a kid’s mind and spirit like an encounter with something new.
Don’t force, inspire. It’s easy for us parents to sometimes become overzealous about our kids’ talents, especially when they seem to showcase a particular talent. But rather than pushing a child to use their talent, look for ways to inspire their God-given abilities. For instance, because Adeline loves to sing, Jessica and I have taken her to concerts where she can experience people using their vocal talents. Elias loves card stacking, so we’ve spent lots of time together oohing and ahhing at online videos of people building amazing things with only cards.
Art is never a bad thing. Regardless if a child seems naturally gifted at coloring or painting or drawing, allowing them the opportunities to create is always a good thing. Creative expression is something that helps all kids use their imaginations, gives us opportunities to express our emotions and feelings, and is oftentimes, just a fun activity. Art is a gift that we should give our kids often.
Enjoy the gifts that God gives your kids. Most of all, enjoy seeing and exploring your child’s God-given talents and interests. Be grateful for their gifts, and take time to allow your kids to showcase what they’re good at. Sometimes our kids’ gifts only show up for a season. Sometimes they outgrow what you believe could be their career. And sometimes, our amazing little vocalists grow up to be only okay singers. So, don’t take your child’s creative expressions for granted. Find joy and hope and light in every single one. Sure, your child might be a Mozart or a Simone Biles in the making, or they might just be a kid being a kid, someone who is exploring an interest that makes them feel good about themselves. And that’s okay. Enjoy it. Let them enjoy it, too.
God is a creative whose gifts, talents, interests, and knacks show up often in the lives of our children. Encourage your kids to engage and explore every single gift. And empower them to use it to bring God glory and to bring love and light into the world.
When God Made You inspires young readers to learn about their own special gifts and how they fit into God's divine plan as they grow, explore, and begin to create for themselves. Click here to grab one today!
For more inspiration, read these related articles:
3 Prayers for Your Child’s Future Spouse
A Prayer for New Baby
A Letter to My New Kindergartner
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