The idea of productive free time is closely linked with Talents, Gifts and Abilities
The activities that my children choose to do in their productive free time give me a good clue as to the passions, interests and bents that are in their life at this present time. Just a note on that, I believe that children go through phases where they are focussed on one thing. This may or may not be an inbuilt passion that lasts forever, but it may give a clue. As parents we so much want to know what is their internal passion, so we can build on it, and enhance it but I don’t know that it works that way. Yes, we can get indicators but these will be confirmed over a period of time, not from one season of their life. The answer is to give them the freedom to move on and change and yet give them everything you can while they have the drive.
What I see in my children, and some of my thoughts about their internal passions:
Daniel loves to build. When he was younger he would create the most amazing constructions, with moving parts, from boxes and masking tape. He doesn’t do this anymore. I still believe that building is something we need to strengthen in Daniel. Instead of thinking that building isn’t in him anymore I have looked to see why he isn’t doing it – he has the ideas but he lacks the ability, the skill. So we are going to work on the skills. Today we are off to the hardware to buy some wood and a few tools. Looks like I’m going to learn some building skills too!
Nomi has art coming out of her every pore! We see this more and more every year. Just lately I have noticed that she draws patterns, she sees designs everywhere. She is also a performer – if she has everyone laughing she is in her element! We have observed these things over the years, little by little the picture comes together. We now have to give her every opportunity to explore creativity but keep it in balance with an "other" centeredness.
Jess doesn’t like to be boxed! (reminds me of me!) But she has some strong characteristics that drive her use of time. She is a nurturer; she likes to care for people, to keep things orderly, she is a homemaker in the making. She has other interests as well, which we encourage. She is learning html at the moment and enjoys working with graphics and text. Who knows where this interest will lead her in today’s technology world. So though we see strong gifts and abilities we don’t presume we know where this will take her. We do spend every effort though strengthening those things we do see.
Josh – it is hard not to stereotype Josh and where his interests will lead him but we need to have caution. He is a thinker, a reader, a scholar. Our challenge with Josh is to keep his passions in balance – he needs to be a well-rounded person, with a relationships-first heart. We have read many stories where God captures a heart and their life course is changed. God is in control – we are just working with what we’ve got!
The very essence of something being a passion means that it will come to the fore – if we, as parents, aren’t controlling and through our preconceived expectations squash things that don’t fit with our plan.
These things I see in my children haven’t been immediate revelations – they have been snippets of information, observations and thoughts collected over years. I encourage you to sit back and enjoy your children, encourage their interests without any preconceived ideas or expectations. Give your children plenty of time to explore, dig deep and move on. Go with the flow, be prepared to teach and train skills, and always remember that relationships come first and everything they do needs to be done with excellence of character.