The Benefits to Knowing Your Child’s Strengths
Fourth in a four-part series on parenting from your strengths
Rob and Kate have three sons. Blond hair, blue eyes – all three look alike. In fact, two are twins. Yet the three children have completely different personalities. Adam, the oldest, is sensitive and caring. He dislikes change. Bryan, on the other hand, is independent, drawing on his interest in science to find logical answers to problems while Matt, spontaneous and outgoing, loves being around people and talks with everyone he meets.
Over time as Rob and Kate struggled to parent their boys, they worked hard to treat each sibling equally. They could not understand why that approach led to even more conflict.
Division is not God’s desire for Rob and Kate’s family, nor yours. As this couple committed to finding a common reference point, they discovered how God’s Word was their “true north.” They drew upon their individual strengths in parenting and found that their differences complemented one another, making them a stronger parenting unit together rather than separately. Rob and Kate were ready to add a third key coordinate to their Global Parenting System (GPS): an understanding of their children’s unique, God-given strengths.
A True-North Reading About Parenting Your Children
A true-north reading from Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
It can be tempting embrace a modern-day interpretation of that verse as, “Train up a child in the way you want him to conduct his life and he’ll stick with it.” In doing so, many parents fall into two common traps: forcefully pushing a child to live a certain way, insisting he conform – or pointing the child towards a specific path but sidestepping responsibility and avoiding the walk alongside him during the process.
What Are Your Child’s Strengths?
But the verse’s words mean something different altogether, suggesting a personalized, intentional approach. The literal translation reads, “Train up a child according to his bent.” In other words, parents are to study and know a child’s bent, or tendencies, and then train him to maturity according to those strengths.
Understand your child’s bent. Just as identifying your unique strengths allows you bring those skills to the parenting equation, in the same way identifying your child’s unique strengths (his “bent”) helps him contribute to a richer, more diverse family unit in a satisfying way. Understanding your child’s strengths is a key to blend, allowing you to take action steps to value those differences, improve communication, and build supportive, closer relationships in your family.
You can help your child discover his personal strengths through a simple, 10-minute online strengths assessment. The resulting data helps your child know how he makes decisions, accomplishes tasks, and handles conflict – giving both him and you an objective platform to share information and grow in understanding.
Train your child according to his bent. Imagine the benefit to your child when he understands his strengths at an early age. As you lead your child through a process of self-understanding, over the years you can train him to use his skills and abilities in a healthy, powerful way.
In that sense a parent is like an athletic trainer, one who works alongside an athlete watching every move and analyzing carefully. What are the athlete’s strengths? How can the athlete maximize her impact on the field or on the court? The trainer continually finds ways to improve the athlete’s form. He offers tips. He affirms the athlete’s progress. The trainer stands along the sidelines, encouraging and cheering on the athlete. He knows when the athlete needs a time out. After a workout or a game, the trainer points out to the athlete what she did well. He helps the athlete set new goals for next time. Training is consistent work over the long haul. The result? The athlete becomes a powerful asset to her team. The team benefits from her strengths and the athlete experiences satisfaction, knowing she is contributing and making a difference.
A parent, like a trainer, becomes a student of a child’s strengths and walks alongside the child to help maximize those strengths in life and experience satisfaction in contributing to the whole.
Benefits Extend Beyond Parenting
While most parenting is accidental rather than deliberate, parenting from your strengths is intentional. And the benefits of relying on God’s Word as your “true north” in parenting, knowing your individual strengths, and understanding your child’s strengths stretch beyond building stronger bonds in your family life.
By equipping your child to know and maximize his uniqueness, you demonstrate the value God places on each individual. But even more than that, you give your child a precious gift: a lifelong understanding of how he can live and lead from his strengths. Throughout his life, you child will benefit by knowing his strengths and how he can contribute in all kinds of relationships and situations.
Can there be a more satisfying reward in parenting than in knowing you were part of guiding your child to know his strengths and in learning to use them?
I don’t think so.
More on Parenting From Your Strengths
Parenting From Your Strengths, Part 1: How a GPS Can Help You Be a Better Parent
Parenting From Your Strengths, Part 2: How a Parent Finds “True North”
Parenting From Your Strengths, Part 3: Will You Bury, Boast, or Build on Your Parenting Strengths?