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by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families

I can't believe that anyone would want to make quilts. I mean, why take perfectly good material, snip it up into minute pieces, throw it into the air so the pieces are all mixed up and then sew it all back together again? Absurd! And yet, I guess my friends would rather eat their hat than to spend 40 hours knitting a sweater like I do - all the time! I can't believe that my cousin didn't just love the gorgeous bracelet and earrings I spent forever choosing for her 50th birthday. I'd have been over the moon if someone had given them to me!

I can't believe anyone would be seen dead wearing orange and red together! Yuk! I can't believe that my kids are so different in temperament when they came from the same two parents! One is forthright and strong-willed. The other has more of a passive aggressive personality. One is a performer who needs to have lots of friends around her all the time, while the other prefers to be alone and is embarrassed when attention is drawn to him. Considering our 'out there' personalities as their parents, I thought our kids would have to have been just like us.

You may have heard of the term 'nature vs. nurture'. It means that our peronality is influenced by not only our DNA (nature) which is inherent, but also the environment we live in - (nurture). As someone once wisely said, "We are the sum total of our life's experiences. What influences and circumstances have you had in your life that have caused you to become cautious or bold, to be timid or precocious? What amazing genetic inheritance has made you look and act the way you do? There must be as many different chromosomal combinations as there are snowflakes. Yet, knowing all this, I still forget to actually appreciate the differences that create such a rich texture in our families, communities and society. Instead, I want to squash them all into a small box to make them compatible with my own thinking. Just think how peaceful that would be! There would be no conflict because I wouldn't have to accommodate anyone else's 'weird' quirks or 'bizarre' thinking.

The best thing we can do as parents is to encourage our kids to live out their own dreams, find their own purpose and formulate and reach their own goals. Too many times we want to live out our unfulfilled ambitions vicariously through our kids. NOT!

Where do we start? Let's back up for a minute. First, we have to be happy in our own skin. Do I like who I am? If not, then why not? If I am happy in myself I will be less likely to try and make others follow my dreams. I will be more sensitive to their need to get the same kick out of life that I do - but in their own way. Granted, we do have responsibilities as parents that mean we have to make personal compromises for the sake of the family sometimes. But then, that is the road we chose in having a family.

We need to expose our kids to a number of activities until they discover what THEY are really good at. Some kids are really adept at physical activities like sport. Some love to create things from scratch while others love to show others how to make or do things. We have a grandson who is a phenomenal speaker at 12 yeara of age. His brother is an amazing hip hop dancer.

When kids are unhappy it is often because they haven't found anything that really excites them. They become confident when we encourage them for trying, and praise them when they succeed. Every person on this planet has something special to offer. Some of us are fortunate to discover our uniqueness and purpose early in life. Others are still trying to 'find themselves' in their late 50s. We all deserve to experience that feeling of achievement. It contributes to our sense of personal value.

We don't have to all think the same way. Others don't have to march to our drum, and who cares if one is out of step with all the rest? The important thing is to fulfill our purpose, reach our potential, and to be confident enough to do it with flare.

If you have any comments or questions on this subject, please do not hesitate to contact us at HYPERLINK "mailto:sally@forefrontfamilies.org" sally@forefrontfamilies.org. We invite you to also check out our website at HYPERLINK "http://www.forefrontfamilies.org/" www.forefrontfamilies.org and our blog site at HYPERLINK "http://www.forefrontfamilies.blogspot.com/" www.forefrontfamilies.blogspot.com for further assistance.

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