Watch out for favoritism. I know that is a bad word, but it can happen in the realm of facilitating giftings. I recently heard of a family that has a daughter with a talent for the violin. They had promised their son that they would buy him a gun (he loves hunting)—but ended up using that money to buy sister a violin instead, and he had to wait another year or two for the promised gun. It's not too hard to figure out what kind of message this sent to the boy—"I'm not as important to Dad and Mom as my sister."

This is a pretty glaring example, but it emphasizes the importance of treating every child's gifting with the same importance, whether it is easily identifiable or not. Again, as stewards, our role is to facilitate God's gifts within our children, not to label one more acceptable than another. In fact, the less visible gifts often need more encouragement and opportunities than the ones that tend to take center stage.

And finally, steer far from the snare that lies so subtly across our path—parental pride. It is so easy to forget that our worth as parents is not determined by the performance of our children, but by the very fact that Jesus loved us enough to die for us. All else has no bearing on our value. These children of ours do not exist to give us worth, and their achievements do not validate our existence. We are involved in their lives as stewards—not for ourselves, but for the Lord and for what He wants to draw out of each of them.

HOW OLD IS TOO OLD?
So what is the optimum age to begin this process? Figuring in the variables of individual personalities, maturity, and focus, a general guideline would be from age eight on up. Just remember—the object is not to have child prodigies, the goal is to draw out of a child what God has deposited in them. Ages eight to twelve are good years for this—a time of optimal interest and learning. By the time they become teenagers, they will have had close to four years to become proficient in their gifting.

But by all means start, even if the child is already a teen. Teens are good at making up for lost time, and they tend to be much more motivated and self-sustaining. They have a view to the future and more understanding of why they're doing what they're doing.

So as the future stretches before us, full of unknown potential, it's always a great time to:

  • Look for areas of gifting the Lord has built into your children.
  • Take the steps to encourage the development of those giftings, being active in support, encouragement and enablement.
  • Listen for the "well done," and enjoy the smile of God as you faithfully steward the children He has shared with you.

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Leslie Wyatt has been married to her husband, Dave, and have six children. They have been homeschooling for over 14 years.

This article was originally published in the Mar/Apr '04 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more information, visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com.