How do you inspire a child? How do you teach her to see the larger picture? Let me count the ways.
You can take her out for a holiday to see the world. Expose her to the suffering of others so as to learn thankfulness. Read to her the glowing testimonies of heroes, dead or alive. Or encourage her to push herself to the max.
You can consider bringing her to museums, exhibitions and seminars to learn how things are done. Or sit her down and talk to her privately. Perhaps you can remind her with the right Christian musical background that she is created in the image of God. How's that for a spiritual dressing-up?
Here's another thought...you can take her out on a camping trip to show her how nature struggles to survive and thrive in a hostile environment. And then sit her down quietly to observe how a spider painstakingly build her web amidst the dastardly winds. Wouldn't that be uplifting?
Suppose you could rally the family up during the weekend to watch Forrest Gump or Schindler's List just to fire up her imagination. Or invite the grandparents over to teach her a thing or two about life. Let them wise folks tell her about what’s life all about from their own unique perspective. How's that for some old-timer's pick-me-up?
Or how about making her sign up for a youth camp so that she could learn people skills? Surely, a little social intermingling wouldn’t hurt right? She can then learn about working in a team, winning and losing as a team, and celebrating within a team. But let's not stop there.
How about allowing her to discover her own gift? That is, let her explore life on her own and leave her to reflect, meditate and self-internalize. Maybe she needs to get self-acquainted and then trust that she will discover her true calling in the process. Nothing beat self-realization to bootstrap the self esteem. For isn't it true that you can't force a camel to drink? But you can feed the camel a handful of salt so that she will thirst after water?
So, after all said, how do you inspire a child then?
By being a tiger mum? Or a liberal parent? Do you then force-feed her with assessment papers and regimentalize her early years? Or do you let her grow at her own pace, discover her own life-path, and support her from behind?
Is our child ours to love or ours to push? Should we make excuses for laziness or whip them up to their fullest academic potential?
Here I wonder, how do our children see us? Do they see us as loving or self-serving? Do they see us as patient or desperate, firm or lost, understanding or demanding understanding, held together or torn apart, persistent or inconsistent, sincere or hypocritical, forgiving or begrudging, hopeful or mournful, fun or serious, sympathetic or driven, and I can go on with this.
My point is that being a parent is not a walk in the park. It is a walk or a journey no doubt, but the "park" part is more trying, and sometimes more exasperating, than it seems.
Most times, we have no resume or prior experiences to boast about (or rely upon). We can brag about how cool we are under work pressure, but when it comes to parenting, nurturing and inspiring our children, we are dealing with a life here and not some work assignment, quota target to meet, or promotion to secure.
There is no deadline to meet for parenthood because your flesh and blood is yours to keep for as long as you breathe (or they live). You see, you can score a promotion by doing a good job at work. You can close a deal by outsmarting the competition. Or you can make a killing in the stock market by a well-timed judgment call. But you nurture a life by building up a relationship, and a relationship is about investing a life to grow a life. It is not a hit-and-run affair - in a manner of speaking. It is a work in progress or work always progressing.
So, coming back full circle, how do you inspire a child, especially your very own?
As a parent with three young kids, I guess I have to do a combination of the things listed above, and to do them consistently. The latter part is always a challenge.
Nevertheless, my love for them has to show, not just in oral profession but in habitual action. And love in action will in time pull us all through – come what may.
Let me leave you with the words of Chesterton as I end:
"The family is older than the State; and this means that agreement is older than coercion...(and love older than laws). The family is primarily supposed to rest upon consent (supported by love)...It is for this reason that the father of a family has never been called "the king of the house" or "the priest of the house," or again, "the pope of the house." His power was not dogmatic or definite enough for that. He was called the "head of the house." The man is the head of the house, while the woman is the heart of the house." Cheerz.