Don’t Teach a Fish to Climb – {A Father’s Heart}

I was just in my son Sam’s room looking over his shoulder as he sketched a story board drawing on his computer. He’s enrolled in Animation Mentor, an online school designed to train the next wave of Pixar and Disney animators.

I stood amazed, not because of his ability or the nice things his teacher said about his work, but because this was the same kid who was born a shocking shade of yellow, whose head slumped to one side, and who would write his words like they were in a mirror.

I guess what amazes me is the truth that every one of God’s creations is a unique masterpiece, but when we judge everyone by the same standard, only a few measure up.

Don't teach fish to climb- applauding your children's gifts

I think that’s what Albert Einstein meant when he said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”  –Albert Einstein

My other children don’t have Sam’s artistic abilities. One is an incredible communicator, another is an inventor, one is a writer, one a builder, another is relational and a couple of little boys are just plain fun so far. But they are all geniuses, gifted by the Creator for some significant role they are to play now and in the future.

The thing about homeschooling parents is that we like to use the same standard for all of our kids. We feel good about those who do well in math, those who are entrepreneurs or play instruments, excel in sports, or do something applaudable. We sometimes overlook that it is all applaudable and that all our children are geniuses in their own way.

Not only do we spend too much of our time feeling uncertain about our children’s ungenius-like qualities, but we also doom our children to failure. Like Einstein’s quote, we spend our energies trying to teach fish to climb trees, somehow believing that is more noble and worthy than swimming.

…we spend our energies trying to teach fish to climb trees, somehow believing that is more noble and worthy than swimming.

The beauty of homeschooling (and parenting) is that we can relax, knowing that our children will excel in what they were created to excel in. They might not make much money, have fancy houses or cars, but they will be happy doing what God created them to do, if we allow them to swim (if they’re fish).

Don't teach a fish to climb- finding the genius in our children's gifts

So, if you have an art kid let him do art. If you have a math kid, let him do math. If you have a relational kid, let him relate. Let them each explore the areas of their giftedness and spend as little time (and frustration) as possible on their non-gifted areas.

Stop listening to the experts and start listening to the genius inside of you who knows what your children need to excel. And if you’re struggling to see the genius in your child, then back off and just observe him. It’s in there and will come out if you give him a little time and a safe place to express it.

And then, when they do their thing, give them a standing ovation filled with smiles and applause for being a genius.

Bravo!!!!

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Todd Wilson is the founder of Familyman Ministries and is a writer, speaker, dad, and former pastor. 

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