TRAINING: Take note of your child’s abilities

Recently, Jim Newsome spoke at our church and related this modern fable by George Reavis.


Once upon a time the animals decided they must do something to help their children face the problems of the world, so they organized a school. They had adopted an activity curriculum consisting of running, climbing, swimming and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum, all the animals took all the subjects. …
The duck was excellent in swimming. In fact, he was even better than his teacher. But he made only passing grades in flying and was very poor in running. Since he was slow in running, he had to stay after school and also drop swimming in order to practice running. This was kept up until his webbed feet were badly worn and he was only average in swimming. But average was acceptable in school so nobody worried about that, except the duck….
The rabbit started at the top of the class in running but had a nervous breakdown because of so much make-up work in swimming. …
The squirrel was excellent in climbing until he developed frustration in the flying class where his teacher made him start from the ground up instead of the treetop down. He also developed a “charlie horse” from overexertion and then got a C in climbing and D in running.
The eagle was constantly causing problems and was severely disciplined. In the climbing class, he beat all the others to the top of the tree, but he kept insisting on using his own method of getting there. This was unacceptable.

The point of the story is that each child has different abilities. Trying to make everyone the same ends in making everyone mediocre. Acknowledging differences opens the doors to excellence, to fulfillment, and to purpose.

What are your child’s abilities? Here is a good practical place to start that begins to move our children toward purpose. Ephesians 2:10 states that we are his workmanship. God made us for his purpose and with the abilities to do that purpose. The beauty of God’s plan is illustrated in creation when we see the animals doing what they were meant to do. There is a certain joy in their activities.

I recently watched two squirrels on a chase in my backyard. Across the fence, up the trees, jumping from branch to branch, one right behind the other at breakneck speed. It was fascinating. Then I saw what I had never seen before. The first squirrel jumped for a small twig of a branch, barely hanging on, the branch dropping two or three feet; but he held on and scrambled up. The problem was with the second squirrel. When the branch moved, he had nothing to grab. It was like a cartoon. Frantically grasping for anything, he simply grabbed nothing and down he went. Plummeting about twenty feet, he plopped to the ground. The first squirrel stopped and watched. I watched. The grounded squirrel lifted his head, got his bearings, saw the nearest tree, and off he went again, resuming the chase, apparently unhurt. I laughed out loud. They were having fun being squirrels, doing what they were made to do.

What are your child’s abilities? What can he do? What is he not able to do? A simple common sense approach will recognize his abilities and help him to see them, too. “Wow, you are pretty good at that.” You may want to download this little interest inventory to give you a start. Simply click here

What are your child’s inabilities? What are things that she obviously was not made to do? We can say, “Hey, that was a good try. Thanks for giving your best.” But we can’t tell her she is good at that just so she feels good about it in the moment. That would be confusing to her. Unconditional love does not mean that we tell her she’s good at everything. That’s just not true. If we don’t help her recognize what she cannot do, we may be creating a mediocre child who does not know where to focus her efforts as she matures.

Part of our job as parents is to be watching our kids as they grow and guiding them into purpose. Their abilities get us going in the right direction, but there’s more . . . next week.