Chameleon Parenting: Adapt to Your Child's Unique Design
- Monday, March 12, 2007
She has a mom who hates to shop.
My twelve-year-old and nine-year-old sons love sports. Between the two of them, there are baseball, soccer, and basketball games to attend. They both love the competition and action of sports.
They have a mom who barely knows what the words “offensive” and “defensive” mean.
Our two older kids loved music. They were involved in choir, school musicals, and theatre. As a music teacher myself, I loved being a part of their activities throughout grade school, junior high, and high school. It was a natural fit to be involved in what they were involved in. I could support their interests because they were my interests too!
My three younger children are teaching me some new mothering lessons. Just like a chameleon changes it’s colors to blend in with its environment, I’m learning to adapt to my surroundings and blend in with my environment. I’m learning to be a chameleon mom.
What is a chameleon mom? She’s a mom that realizes her child’s interests are different than her interests. Rather than discouraging their interests, she chooses to adapt and take on the colors around her. What that means for me is that I’m going to the mall more often—not because I’m learning to love to shop, but because I’m learning a new way to love my daughter. I want to step into her world. I want to be her primary influence. I want to spend time with her.
For my boys, I’m learning the language of sports. There are positions, strategies, and rules to understand. I’m mastering the sign language of referees and umpires. I’m working to step into their world and share in their interests.
If your children have different interests than you have as a parent, you might need to become a chameleon parent. As you learn to change colors, here are some tips to help you adapt:
- Resist the urge to try to change your child’s interests. Celebrate their differences and launch into learning about their world.
- Tame your fears about the future. One mom confided to me that she had been discouraging her daughter’s interest in the fashion industry because of her own fears about the environment her daughter might work in someday. Set your own fears aside and let your child explore.
- Ask questions. Children feel valued when mom and dad show interest in what they are doing. What was your favorite part of the game? What does this term mean? What interests you most about this?
- Acquire knowledge. Go to the library or surf the internet to find more information and educate yourself.
- Connect them to learning opportunities. Watch for community education classes offered in the summer. Arrange for them to shadow someone working in their area of interest. Let them explore their interests freely under your guidance and encouragement.
Children need parents who are involved and invested in their life. They need to know that mom and dad are willing to step into their world and learn to love the things they love. This gives them stability and value that will last a lifetime.
Chameleons change their color as a form of protection from their predators. You and I have to do the same. Our predators are busyness, work and volunteer responsibilities, fatigue, and general disinterest in things our children might be interested in. We need to adapt to our environment to protect and prioritize the relationships that matter the most.
The one thing a chameleon parents needs to remember is that this environment won’t last very long. Children’s interests change over time. Even if their interests stay steady, they grow up and leave home in the blink of an eye. You only need to change colors for a short season of time. Before you know it, you can go back to the color that matches your interests and environment…until, of course, you become chameleon grandparents!
Jill Savage (www.jillsavage.org) is the founder and Executive Director of Hearts at Home (www.hearts-at-home.org), an organization designed to encourage, educate, and equip women in the profession of motherhood. She is the author of five books including Professionalizing Motherhood, Is There Really Sex After Kids?, and her newest release My Heart’s At Home (Harvest House Publishers). Jill and her husband, Mark, have five children and make their home in Central Illinois.
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