Tales of buried treasure have long stoked the imaginations of everyone from children to pirates, from thrill seekers to corporations, from the Old West 49ers to the playfully modern geocachers. People can spend their entire lives and fortunes looking for oil, gold, diamonds, rare metals and elements, all in the hopes of finding it.
Treasure. Rare, invaluable treasure.
And in that way, I think parenting is a lot like treasure hunting, too. Ultimately, parenting is a ton of hard work that makes you wonder what you will find and accomplish in the end. Parenting involves a pursuit of treasure that is buried within the heart and life of a child. And parenting has a big payoff when you find those treasures in the heart of your child. Here are some other ways parenting is like a great treasure hunt:
Knowing what’s treasure and what’s not.
Like treasure hunters, parents have to recognize what we’re looking for and where to dig in our child’s life. This means keeping our eyes open for your child’s strengths, talents, or character qualities.
When we see these things, we have a lead on the treasures we want to find. For an example of this, look at this blog post where I discuss how to influence your child’s career choice.
Knowing and dealing with your surroundings.
When seeking treasure in mines, for example, samples from the ground are constantly tested to confirm the presence of the treasured resource. In parenting, trials and tests in our kids’ lives show us what’s in their hearts. Resilience? Patience? Mercy? Stubborn determination?
The difficulties of life which we instinctively want to protect them from are often the tests that show us what’s in the ground of their hearts. And sometimes the samples show us the bad stuff, too, like rebellion or fear. For an example of how we can look more closely at the heart of our kids in rebellion, see this blog post.
Finding and isolating the good stuff.
Treasure hunters need to be skilled at not just finding but separating the treasured discovery from everything else around it. Similarly in parenting, we dig to find and separate the good stuff. That means helping our kids sort through difficult emotions, circumstances, disappointments, and insecurities to see the treasures in themselves, in their own heart, abilities, and character.
It also means helping them ignore unimportant things that distract them. For ideas on how to develop good character in your kids, see my wife, Susan’s, post here.
Refining and using the treasures.
Once someone seeking treasures finds what they’re looking for, they make it as pure and polished and valuable as possible. In parenting, we help our kids hone their talents and character through practice, risk, and experience. And we need to encourage them to use their treasures in the best ways. Gold and precious gems are used in jewelry and other excellent ways.
We don’t make toothpicks or toilet paper out of the precious things. We use them in precious, desirable ways. Similarly, parenting requires that we help our kids apply their abilities and passions and qualities for good use. Skills aren’t honed just to have them but to be used well.
Final thought: The hearts of our children are precious mines with precious treasures to be found. But remember the power of your influence as a parent can either help them find those treasures or it can collapse their heart and bury the treasures. Look here for my recommendations on things parents should never say to their kids and things parents should say every day to their kids.
How do you get the good stuff out of the heart of your child? Please share your insights with us in the comments below.