I’m sure you’ve heard at least one parent say “I raised all my children up in the same way, how come this particular child turned out differently?” I must confess, I’ve said that statement awhile back when one of my children started acting up because of issues of insecurity.
Then I realized that it was probably because I raised them up in the same way that resulted in those issues. Because my “steps 1-2-3” worked so well with my first born, I assumed that it will work just as well with my other kids. Years of parenting experience have taught me that there is no formula to good parenting. There are timeless biblical principles that we constantly live by, but those principles have to be applied differently according to the needs and personality of every child.
God has created every child uniquely. They have different emotional needs and process situations differently. I remember when Nathan and Janina were very young, they would respond differently to the same situation. One time I noticed they were running and shouting all around church, I called their attention and firmly commanded them to stop and sit down. Nathan responded with “Okay mom” and quietly proceeded to his seat while Janina folded her arms and gave me an angry stare. Same command, but different responses from two different children. There are easy children and there are strong-willed children. Both are special, gifted and intelligent but they have different needs. Some children need more explanation, more time and more patience.
Children also receive love differently. We have one child who is very particular about what “pasalubong” (gift) he would get whenever we came home from an out-of-town trip while the others are just happy to have us back and spend quality time with us. It is not that he is materialistic, but somehow, gifts communicate love to him. For others, it’s verbal affirmation, or service, or touch. We need to know how our child best receives love from us.
Parents, we need to be sensitive and discerning about each of our children’s design and we need to adjust our parenting style accordingly. There is not one blanket approach to parenting. We need to be a student of each child and spend time to discover what works best (and what doesn’t) with them. Be willing to throw out old templates that do not work and start with a new one. And most importantly, we need to always ask God for wisdom, because He knows our children the best, and learn to love, support and discipline each one of them according to their own uniqueness.