When my daughter was born, my husband and I would spend hours analyzing and discussing who she inherited what from. In the looks department, she bears a striking resemblance to her dad. You can imagine how that must have made me feel at first! I wanted a little girl who looked just like me. So, when I knew there was no hope of making any claims in that regard, I would spend hours studying her, just looking for my ‘Aha!’ moment. The result of this was something beyond my expectations. This little princess was so much more than an extension of dad or mum; she was her own self.
This is not to say that children may or may not inherit a look or trait from one or both parents, because they do. What is awe-inspiring is how that combination blends into something that is so much more beautiful than we expect. The child has his or her own unique identity; just like they have their very own, never-before-seen fingerprint.
It is our duty as parents, guardians and care givers to consciously seek to know what makes each of our children unique and celebrate their uniqueness, thus building in our children, a confidence in self that they will be eternally grateful to you for. Children want to be loved…as they are. They shouldn’t be made to feel that they can only be loved and accepted when they behave in a particular way or like a particular person.
Give room to your children to express themselves through their personal and varying interests. They are sure to find one form of creative outlet or another. It may manifest in the form of acting, dancing or art, or you may be surprised to find them exceptionally adept in sciences. The important thing is to not discourage them from pursuing their interests, so long as those interests are age appropriate. Let them embrace what they like to do, what interests them, and what makes them happy. We need to let our children know that they do not need to worry about being like anyone else because they are loved just as they are.
This does not encourage a child to have free rein over his or her life; far from it. As you teach your child to enjoy being himself or herself, also encourage that child to make positive choices. Praise them when they do the right thing and introduce them to activities that promote a sense of cooperation and accomplishment. Do not withhold discipline from them; it is an essential part of growth and development. However, you must always show fairness. Make sure your rules are clearly defined. Also, let them know that there will be consequences for flouting your rules; and let them know what those rules are.
Our children deserve to grow in an environment where their individual uniqueness is allowed to thrive without the threat of being put in a straight jacket or the indifference that breeds character deficiencies. Raising children is a huge responsibility; no one doubts that. There are however few things we can do that will make this as much fun as it is serious. When each child is allowed to grow and develop based on his or her uniqueness, it actually makes your job not so much easier as it makes it more fun.
As you daily observe your child, look out for your child’s temperament, personality, pet peeves, and personal interests. Ask them questions that require well thought out responses. Help with homework and weekend studies to observe their preferred learning styles. Meet with their teachers whenever you can, to get one-on-one feelers about how your child is faring in school.
There are two things which I deem crucial to celebrating your child’s uniqueness. The first is doing away with negative labels. Please, do not let people label your child negatively and do nothing about it. When someone says, your child is ‘bad’; your immediate response should be to find out why the person said that and negate that remark. Step in and rename. The second is to let your child hear him or her being praised by you. I am not saying act out a scene, but do not be overly cautious about commending your child to another person in that child’s hearing. It is like water to a thirsty man’s soul.
Whether they tell you or not, our children need us to love and accept them as the unique, deliberately crafted creatures sent from heaven to bless our lives and homes. Let us celebrate them.
Life is beautiful!
Photo Credit: Parenting by Example