Who has God made your child to be? What brings her joy? What lights him up? Helping kids to figure out what they actually enjoy when no one is looking and when they’re not trying to impress anyone is a powerful way to encourage and support them. Joy is a powerful force for good.
A few years ago, a letter from C. S. Lewis was found tucked inside a copy of a secondhand book in London. Believed to be previously unpublished, the letter to a “Mrs. Ellis” was written by Lewis in 1945 and unpacks the concept of joy. In it, C.S. Lewis writes:
“It jumps under one’s ribs and tickles down one’s back and makes one forget meals and keeps one (delightedly) sleepless o’ nights. It shocks one awake when the other puts one to sleep. My private table is one second of joy is worth 12 hours of Pleasure. I think you really quite agree with me.”
I’ve observed some extraordinary parenting in my years working with 6th-12th grade students at Lakeland Christian School. The best parenting embraces the kind of joy that C.S. Lewis describes that “makes one forget meals and keeps one (delightedly) sleepless o’ nights” and looks for ways to help kids discover who God made them to be. So much of it is helping kids to find what they actually enjoy.
C. S. Lewis talks about “enjoying” in The Screwtape Letters, his allegory where the senior tempter (Screwtape) is instructing the junior tempter (Wormwood) in the art of eradicating true joy in his “patient”.
“I would make it a rule to eradicate from my patient any strong personal taste which is not actually a sin, even if it is something quite trivial such as a fondness for county cricket or collecting stamps or drinking cocoa. Such things, I grant you, have nothing of virtue them; but there is a sort of innocence and humility and self-forgetfulness about them which I distrust. The man who truly and disinterestedly enjoys any one thing in the world, for its own sake, and without caring twopence what other people say about it, is by that very fact fore-armed against some of our subtlest modes of attack. You should always try to make the patient abandon the people or food or books he really likes in favour of the "best" people, the "right" food, the "important" books. I have known a human defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions.”
My parenting heroes embrace the unique ways their kids are designed. They let kids stay late to build robots and drive kids to help them do things the parents don’t really understand. They listen and encourage as kids reveal what they really love.
I know a mom who embraces the fact that her son loves...and I mean really loves...snakes. She does not love snakes, but she adores her son and celebrates his growing expertise. She’s on a mission to support him, and it enriches their life together as a family.
As you spend time with your kids, consider the ways that God’s design and plan for their lives informs their loves. Listen carefully. Embrace the uniqueness of their design, and look for constructive ways to help them find joy. The things that bring them joy are a strong indicator of their design, and therefore their call. Discover it together and enjoy the adventure!
Posted In Viking Views Blog