Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Eternal Conversations

"Mom, what do you think I'm going to be when I grow up? What would I be good at?"

"What do you like about me, Mom?"

Amanda has been asking me these questions lately. In fact, she asks me one (or both) of these questions almost anytime we are alone. I am so thankful for our trips to and from BSF each Monday night. Being in the car alone on short trips are perfect for these types of soul-searching conversations.

How do you answer these questions?

I always try to turn it back to her "What would you like to be? Have you asked God?" while also encouraging her with one of her positive quality traits.

"You are friendly. You're funny (this is very important to her lately). You're a good big sister."

Hearing these affirming observations always results in a little self-conscious smile. Sometimes my direction such as, "Maybe you'll be a mom like me," get a response like, "No, I think I want to have a job" (as did I when I was nine years old). However, I think it's important to remind her--not only that it's an option, but one that I am glad I chose.

Last Sunday when we picked her up from Sunday School, the teacher was talking to her. I asked her why, and explained that there was going to be a foster child there next week and she wanted Amanda and another girl to be sure to welcome her.

I asked her Monday if the girl had come to church. She hadn't. I told her that I was proud of her for being asked and for being willing. I explained that it's a way she can serve God. She asked how that was serving God, and I explained that it's using her God-given personality strengths to help others. If a new person comes to church and is welcomed and enjoys herself, she might want to come back and learn more about God.

So, seriously, how do you answer these types of questions from your children? How do you encourage them to purse their gifts and talents, or how to figure out what they are?


Katrina said...

This is a great post. Camden's been asking similar questions -- although he's approached it from "Do you think I can have a good job someday even if I am [insert random personality trait here]?"

Chad and I are big believers in tailoring job-searches to match personalities. Right now, though, our approach is to let Camden know that he has LOTS of time, but here are some things he can do:

1) Pray about it; ask God for guidance for his future.

2) Get to know himself. Pay attention to what accomplishments make him feel proud, what school subjects seem interesting, what situations make it easier for him to work, etc.

3) Read about different people, jobs, etc. Learn what all is out there to pursue and explore.

4) Don't worry. There's tons of time and opportunity lying ahead of him.

We also make a point of regularly having conversations along the lines of "knowing ourselves" -- encouraging him to look back on situations and seeing what he can learn about himself. We share what we learn about ourselves as well. We point out how a certain personality trait helped him do well on a project, or why another trait might make speed drills difficult.

Yes, we may be geeks.

I could go on, but I'll stop now. :)

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

I have a lot to look forward to!

At A Hen's Pace said...

You and Katrina both have lots of great ideas! The only thing I'd add is teaching them from the time they're little to listen to God and be willing to obey Him in a big choice like that, not just follow their own selfish paths. We ask them questions like "why do you think that would be a good job?" and hear what their motivations are--making lots of money, gaining fame, etc.--and we reinforce Christian ideas of what a life well-lived looks like: that you don't have to be a pastor or missionary to do God's work, and it's not wrong to make money if you obey God in what you do with it.

Great topic!


Barb said...

These are the questions that scare you because they must be answered with such care. I tended to turn it back to them when my daughters asked me questions like this. But I also always pointed out the things they were good at, the things they seemed to enjoy. Believe it or not, as long as you instill self-esteem in your children, they figure it out for themselves because they grow up believing they can be and do anything they set their hearts to.

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

my daugher has been asking some of these type questions as well...and she's 7 (and a half, dont' forget the half!)

Anyhow, she asks lots of things about her abilities. I think she's suddenly realized that she's not the best ballerina in her dance class. She wants to be, but some of the girls just have more natural talent. This has disheartened my daughter a bit, and I've tried to encourage her that it matters more how hard you work at it and, if you truly love it...and that God gives us different talents.

But she doesn't seem satisified with those answers. I wonder if it is the age?

Lalaine said...

Hi there! I was bloghopping, landed on your blog and this post caught my attention. I also have a daughter and she's only going to be 4 years old this May. She also asked me a question (about the future) which I didn't expect. She actually asked me who's going to be her husband when she grows up?? :) So, even at her small age, I told her that we don't know yet but when she's a little bit older she can pray and ask God to give the right man for her just as how Mommy did. I don't know how much she understood that concept at her small age but I think the most important thing is letting our kids realize their need to pray and ask God in every decision that they make. :)