Teaching Your Child
Teaching your child means that you instruct him how to do things, like clean his room, get along with friends, or eat his vegetables. Your child is taught all day long at school: math, science, history, English, reading, art, P.E. He’s filling his head with information that he may or may not remember.
I homeschooled my kids for a few years, so I was very busy teaching them and filling their heads with all kinds of knowledge that would hopefully help them become well-rounded individuals. Our children need to be taught. It’s part of the growing up process.
Shaping Your Child
Shaping your child means you are focusing more on who he is becoming. It is guiding him to learn integrity, honesty, love, compassion, and forgiveness. It is helping him understand how to get along with difficult people, how to keep trying when he feels like giving up, how to make decisions, and how to think for himself.
When you are focusing on who your child is, rather than just on what your child knows, you are shaping your child. You are laying a foundation of character development for the adult he will become.
Which is more important?
One of the things that I didn’t do a very good job at was teaching my girls how to cook. And I fear my husband neglected to teach my son how to change a tire or fix a broken sink.
Part of me feels guilty that we didn’t do a very good job of teaching life skills like that to our kids, but when I start to think that way, I stop for a moment and look at who they are now. They are 21,24, and 27. They are honest, strong, compassionate young adults, full of their faith and living lives that don’t just focus on themselves.
And I’m reminded that shaping character encompasses way more that just teaching life skills.
When your kids grow up, do you want them to be proficient in cooking, but lacking in character? Do you want your son to know how to change the oil in his own car, but not know how to stick with his job when things get difficult? Do you want your daughter to know how to cook or sew, but not know how to show compassion to a friend?
Here’s the deal: Teaching is a lifelong journey and you can always search the internet for tips on how to cook or how to make home or car repairs. But when it comes to shaping who your child is, you simply can’t google character into them.
The most important thing for you to focus on as a parent, is shaping your child’s character. In the overall scheme of life, who he is trumps what he can do or how much he knows any day.
Education is important, but unless you are focused on shaping who your child becomes as a person, you will not be giving him the opportunity to become all that he can be.
Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks and is the author of the Sports Parenting Survival Guide Series. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.