Unused Potential?

As a parent, I struggle with the hard balance of motivating (or rather, nagging and pushing) my children to be better at things they excel at and freeing them to pursue the areas they are passionate about.

You see, I think sometimes we may excel in certain areas that we don’t particularly care about. At the same time, we may be passionate about things we really aren’t that good at. So how do you know when to let them pursue their passions instead of getting even better at something they have so much potential at? Do you push to the point they are miserable? Or do you let them free to explore their interests? Are the passions ones that God has placed on their hearts or did God give them giftings to excel in areas they are “supposed” to love?

I don’t know.

I wish I did.

But, as a parent, I tend to let them explore their interests and just pray that God instills in them the skills and the work ethic it will take to be good at what they love to do.

Sometimes it is difficult to let them quit certain things and I think it probably more of a pride issue for ME. I know the potential. Others SEE the potential. And then I wonder if others think I may be a bad parent for not insisting they work on what they are already good at and get even better. But…it is not about me, is it?

Part of me, sees myself in this type of situation. I’m good at certain things, so why don’t I keep at those instead of trying to do something that I am not that good at? (yet) I want the freedom to try. The freedom to fail. The freedom to do what I am passionate about, without the guarantee of success.
Has anyone ever dealt with this? Any advice? Reproach?

16 responses to “Unused Potential?”

  1. If you're pasionate about it, even if you fail, you still succeed.

    I know it sounds funny but it's true. Same with kids, with writing, with life.


  2. Ummm…sorry, I have no advice for you. Other than, that's hard! Brogan is only 8 months – I haven't had to do any REAL parenting yet – other than chase him around the house and love him. I'm a wee bit terrified for when he gets old enough to start asking questions, pushing boundaries, and asking tough questions. I'm hoping to learn from you, Sherrinda!


  3. You're ahead of me in this parenting thing, Sherrinda. Since my oldest is 12, I'm just now trying to encourage him to start thinking of how God's gifted him and how he can use that for God's glory with his life work. I think we just need to keep reminding our kids that God's gifting is like the parable of the talents–God gives differing amounts to everyone, but it's how we use those gifts that truly matters to him.


  4. I think a lot of parents go through this. I would encourage the passionate, but your kids are also old enough to know they should hone practical things they're good at too. For a job, and stuff like that, so they have the time and money for the passionate things. Does that make sense?
    I'm sure you're doing a great job!


  5. I go through this too. And it's hard when my husband and I have different feelings on it also! I encourage, sometimes loudly and to the point of annoyance, my kids to “just try it” even when they already tried it and decided it wasn't for them. Then I wonder if I'm a psycho?

    But some kids naturally dig their heels in more than others and then they wish later on that they would have stuck with something.

    Let me know when you get it figured out, because I know I haven't!!


  6. Wonderful post. I like to try things even if I might fail–as we know–there is no guarantee and the fun is in the process:)


  7. Rebecca, well said! I have to remind myself that failure is really rather subjective sometimes. πŸ™‚

    Katie, just when I think I have things figured out, I am reminded that I DO NOT! I do a lot of soul searching and praying and trusting that somehow it will all work out in the end.

    Jody, what a beautiful mother you are be instilling in your children the desire to use their gifts for HIM. I have to keep reminding myself of that parable!

    Jessica, that makes perfect sense. I think sometimes I have to look at the big picture and say, “In the long run, will this really matter?” Basketball? Not so much. Math? Yes.

    Jill, you hit on my fear! I fear that they will look back and wonder why I let them quit. I fear they will have regrets. I hate fear. I hate the doubt. I wonder when I wil ever learn to really trust? I need to pray, use my brain, and trust in the LORD for his ability to make good of any mess ups I make!

    Terri, I have to remind myself of that all the time. There are no guarantees. But oh, the possibilities!


  8. Interesting…and deep!

    I tend to pray and trust that God will lead them where they're to be. To me, passion trumps ability, and just seeing them work to be the best they can at something they're passionate about is a gift.


  9. Eileen, while passion may trumph ability, I just wish the two would come together more often!!! It would save a lot of doubt and questioning in my mind. πŸ˜‰


  10. Sherrinda: No rebuke from me, dear, only love.
    The fact that you are concerned about this shows what a caring, nurturing parent you are. Don't let the enemy lie to you and tell you otherwise!
    We forced our son to take guitar lessons one summer, so he wouldn't spend the entire summer playing Nintendo. He chafed, even shed tears and begged us to quit, but we remained tough. When his teacher switched him from regular guitar to classical, he soared (seems he was bored with chords; classical requires more skill and creativity). He ended up being a great musician. He's not done much lately with it, but the discipline was good for him, and looking back, I'm glad we stayed strong.

    If the talent is there, and you pray for your kids, I believe it will eventually find its way to the forefront of their lives.

    Hope this helps. You are doing well. Don't worry so much!

    Love you, Jen


  11. I have dealt with this. I deal with it every day. One of the best things about some of my beta readers is that they point out the good along with the bad. Seeing the good things in my writing really helps me get through the bad – and want to try new things, too. I'm trying to put this into my parenting skills as well. πŸ™‚


  12. i watched a poignant skit in college one time about parenting (essentially). the gist was that the little girl was born with certain tendencies (toward left-handedness, penchant for creative art and dance) and the parents forced her to be right-handed and play sports instead…THEIR will for her. of course, she was miserable in the skit. but i think about my daughter, and how young she is…and how her “miserableness” wouldn't probably show until later…when she has this hostility toward me! so i'm doing what you're doing…praying God will bring about her natural gifts and abilities and that she'll find happiness with that. you post got me thinking, though. thanks…i can use every reminder that she's God's child, not mine. I'm just a steward of her while she's on earth.


  13. Jeanette, thans for your encouraging words. I tend to worry about making right decisions, instead of trusting God to help me in those decisions. I loved the story you shared and I hope to be strong when I need to be and have the courage to let go when I need to go. πŸ™‚

    Lady Glamis, how wonderful to have beta readers to encourage you AND critique you. That has to be a double blessing, for sure!

    Jeannie, what a great skit that exemplifies exactly what I've been dealing with! Thanks so much for sharing that!


  14. I don't have any advice but I am totally with you on this!!!


  15. i think you're doing just great.

    We are all in the same learning process. Some days are better than others..some days the tears, thank God, for those with the joys.

    One Day


  16. Hi Faith! I don't think I would have any advice for me either! lol Sometimes we just have to do what we think is best and live with it, good or bad. πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by!

    Silver, thanks for the encouragement! It's a strange combination…the joys and the tears. Together they make up the memories that I will cherish always!


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