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As parents we have responsibility to love, nurture, provide, teach and train our children to become responsible, moral, hardworking, creative, authentic adults and contributors to society. Most of us try to do something like that, with varying degrees of competency and success.

But I’ve found that God seems to have an equally important role for our children in our lives. I will try to share a few of the things my kids have taught me. This lesson comes from my #2 child, Michelle.

My husband and I are fairly goal oriented.  We both like to plan and check things off a list and feel like we have accomplished something at the end of the day.

We are both intentional.  Most things we do have purpose and lead us to accomplishing things than matter to us.

We are both somewhat competitive.  We love sports.  We make up games to keep us motivated for things we need to do.

These are not the only things true of us—we have a relaxed side as well.  But these are true.

When Debbie was born, it did not take us long to realize she fit right in—we saw glimpses of the same values and tendencies from an early age.

When Michelle was born, it did not take us long to realize that Michelle was not like this at all.  She was a lover of people, not accomplishments.  She was an artist, an actress, a listener. She wasn’t in a hurry and she hated competition.  She loved the journey, and the destination usually didn’t matter. (See Enjoy the Journey.)

This caused frustration between Debbie and Michelle.  Debbie wanted everything to be a contest; Michelle refused to engage that way.  Debbie wanted active play; Michelle preferred quiet play.  Debbie wanted a neat room; Michelle was content with clutter.

Debbie and Michelle

It also caused frustration between Mom and Dad and Michelle.  I thought we should be on time ; Michelle took her time.  Dad loved coaching his girls in soccer; Michelle was on the team for her friends.  We knew our girls would do well in school; Michelle was bright and excelled, but she was not driven.

I was talking with a friend who was a counselor about our struggle to be good parents to Michelle when she approached life so differently.  She gave me a great analogy:

“It’s like your family speaks German.  You, your husband and Debbie are fluent in German.  Michelle speaks French.  She has tried really hard to learn German, but it isn’t her mother tongue.  The rest of the family tries to speak French with her occasionally, then quickly reverts to native German.

“It’s okay for Michelle to speak French.”

That was a turning point for me.  I accepted that Michelle didn’t have to be like the rest of us.  I began to change my language with her.  I quit chiding her to hurry, she quit playing soccer, I found an art teacher for her, I quit telling her TV (which she loved) was junk food for her mind, I took her to art festivals.

It took time, but I really began to let her be who God created her to be.

I began to believe:  It’s okay to speak French.

What about you?  Do you live or work with someone who approaches life differently?  How can you encourage them to speak their natural language?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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