But I want to suggest that there are at least five potential kid qualities that, while they too may make us cringe at times, should actually be welcomed. They will in most cases shine a beacon on wonderful, future possibilities that our children might never encounter without them. Don't push them aside.
The child who always has a better idea. Do you have a potential lawyer at home? You know, the one who you always had evidence and even witnesses to present as to why what they want to do, be or think is better than what you have in mind. These kids can be exhausting and of course at times need boundaries.
But these are also the kids who are going to be entrepreneurs, try new things and have the ability to think subjectively. They'll one day come up with better ideas for all of us and likely go a long way in the adult world.
The child who questions your most valued beliefs. This may also be the same child in the better idea group but here we add that they regularly question everything from your political perspective to your personal faith in God, the Bible or Heaven. And yes, you may spend much of their adolescent years debating and getting them to quit hating church or even go. But trust me, they have the greatest potential to develop a deep, long-lasting, passionate faith, because they've dug deeply into truth. They don't just believe something because you as a mom or dad did. They make their belief system their own.
The child who doesn't like doing the things most others like. We live in a very activity-driven culture these days, with accomplishments, trophies, scholarships and other awards that are often agreed upon spoils for being successful. And you're not popular if you don't participate. Add to that the fact that there are a limited number of acceptable arenas for that success - i.e. certain sports, certain music options and certain kinds of schools to enter - most parents would rather their child didn't deviate from that list.
But some of our kids do not gravitate to these common talents, skills and interests but take the road less traveled. They're into writing, specialized art, other cultures, history or acting and we need to celebrate, encourage and listen to them. These are people in our churches who also need to be told they can do something in our gatherings and ministry that counts and is just as important as the more common talents. They add color and fabric to any group if we'll just let them.
The child whose temperament is different from the others. This uniqueness often fuels the others I've talked about but it's worth its own mention. One child will want to be with people all the time and rarely plays by himself or herself. Another, however, can stay busy and interested in lots of things while alone in a room for an hour or two. I have one of each extreme in my immediate and extended family. And at times I've honestly worried about both of them for different reasons.
But today one is a successful entrepreneur while the other is a tremendous graphic artist who's helped me on numerous occasions.
The special needs child who adds a little more challenge to each day. I've never parented a special needs child so I'm hardly an expert. But I've rarely talked to a special needs parent who doesn't regularly get blessed because of their child's extra insight, perspective and focus on what's important. Yes, they are often more work, at least for a long while. But that little bit of discomfort always brings greater joy that would not probably be experienced in the same way without them there.
So, mom and dad. If you're feeling a little overwhelmed about having a child or two or three that doesn't exactly fit some sort of mold you were expecting, consider yourself blessed. You may not see all the positive outcomes today, but the best is yet to come. Wait for it.