The Bent of a Child
by Bev Dracos

Our three children approached stair climbing in three decidedly different ways. Tom stood at the base of the stairs and watched people go up and down. He watched and monitored. I closely observed him for any sign that he would make an attempt, but he didn’t. Then, when he felt comfortable, he very methodically climbed all the way up, turned around, and came all the way down (while his mom held her breath). That was that. He had mastered the staircase.

Ellen had her own style. She went up one step and came down. Then she went up two steps and came down. Over a few days, she became confident. She, too, had mastered the staircase.

Then came Marcus. He didn’t look, study, or try in partial stages. He shimmied up the stairs and came rolling down, giggling all the way. We kept a stack of pillows at the bottom of the stairs for quite a while…hoping to avoid a trip to the ER. I don’t know how many times he rolled down before he decided to walk down, holding on to the railing.

They all had in common a refusal to let an adult help them or hold their hand while they were in their learning process. There was, however, the occasional totally helpless call to “carry me.”  

As I have observed them tackle new and assorted challenges in life, I have seen some of these patterns repeat. Tom still requires advance preparation, study, observation, but when he decides he is ready…away he goes. Ellen still likes to address new challenges a little at a time. It takes her a while to commit, but she is off and running when she does. Marcus has a much more reasoned approach than he did as a child, and yet, occasionally, he will attempt a physical challenge that seems beyond his reach. He will throw himself into it with great excitement and without regard for all the “what ifs.” I once again see his irrepressible sense of life as an adventurous challenge in those moments.

In observing our children, we can see the uniqueness that God placed in them. When we recognize their unique characteristics, we are better able to guide and direct them without attempting to change the very bent that God designed.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a single handbook that gave the perfect guidance for rearing our children? How nice would it be if the same method of encouragement, discipline, correction, guidance, reward, and instruction worked on every child? Parenting is a tough assignment because each child is so very different.

We can learn their love language. We can categorize their personality type and temperament blend. We can discover their learning style. Most importantly, we can ask God to show us His design for our children. We can ask Him to open our eyes to the traits, gifts, and talents He has placed in them. We can ask Him to reveal their uniqueness to us. We can seek His guidance in how we are to train our children in the way they should go while maintaining the “bent” that He gave them.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:6-7

May the Lord bless you with wisdom, strength, and endurance as you pour into the lives of your children and continually point them to Christ.