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Identifying Your Children's Spiritual Gifts - Parenting the Prophetic Child

     Why are SOME children a bigger challenge than others?  Is it because the parents are bad parents? Is it because they just blew it with one particular child and learned from their mistake so the rest of their children turned out okay?

     There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to parenting our children.  If you have more than one child, you quickly realize that what worked with the first doesn’t work with the second, third, fourth, and so on--no surprise there--but have you considered the differences in children based on what the Bible calls “spiritual gifts?”

Romans 12 Spiritual Gifts
     “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness,” Romans 12:6-8 (NAS).

A Closer Look

     Did you catch the first line of that passage in the Bible? We all have GIFTS that are different and “EACH of us” is to use them accordingly. This is a concept that can revolutionize our parenting. Responding to each child based on his or her specific gift can make a household run more easily and peaceful.

     Parenting based on gifts also has another MAJOR advantage-- it blesses and affirms your children in the specific way God created them and better prepares them for the specific purpose God created them for. Of the seven gifts listed in Romans 12, the most challenging children to raise are often those with the gift of prophet or ruler (leader).

     Personally, I think parents of children with these gifts need a support group!  I knew when our first child was an infant that she wasn’t the typical, snuggly baby that you could just carry around.

     At first I thought, “It’s the first time parent thing, all parents go through this adjustment.” But as the weeks went by, we discovered that we had been given a very special gift – one that required A LOT of guidance from the one who had created her.

Our Discovery

     As an infant, she was acutely aware of people, places, and herself. I would watch her try to gain control of her fingers and hands before she was two months old. As she would try to grasp for objects and wiggle her fingers, she would easily become frustrated with herself – now this is a normal, healthy developing infant, not a baby with special needs. I have watched our other children develop and gain control of their fingers and hands and they seemed intrigued and patiently learned. Not Abigail, she would fuss and cry when she couldn’t yet grasp something. Whereas other infants might stare at their hands or the object, and even giggle, she was persistent and determined-- at two months old!

     When she was 18 months old, she became very sick from a reaction to immunizations, I stayed up with her throughout the night praying. I cried out to God, afraid for her life. As I lay beside her in her bed, the Lord showed me a vision of a door in her bedroom. Standing at the door was what I knew to be an evil figure cloaked in black. I asked God why it was there. On a neon scrolling sign above her bed I saw the words, “a prophet to the nations.” Then the Lord said, “What did the enemy always try to do to the prophets?” I answered, “Kill them.”  The enemy never wanted their message to get out!

     My husband ended up going on a 21-day-fast the next day. At the end of that month, we not only had a daughter who was healed, but we realized we had to become much more vigilant than ever before in teaching and praying for our children.

Peculiar Things to Watch For . . .

  • Child Recognizes Injustice

     If you have children with this gift, they will quickly recognize and identify injustice.  

     Around the age of three years old, Abigail watched a movie about the birth and life of Jesus. Of course, the movie included the scene where King Herod ordered all the babies under age two to be killed.

     As the soldiers entered the Jewish homes and parents began to run, scream, and babies shrieked then became silent, Abigail watched. She was not scared. She was angry. Instead of covering her eyes in horror and feeling sad for the babies and families, her first comment was, “Mama, did God punish those wicked men? They are wicked!”

  • Child Quickly Identifies Sin

     These children are “wired” to recognize sin and expose it. They demand justice! Think about the harsh messages the prophets of the Bible had to deliver regarding sin.

     People with this gift will “zero in” on sin and evil immediately. As children, this often surfaces in them as pointing out what is wrong with everything and everyone.

     At first, I thought our daughter, Abigail was being ungrateful. I have learned not to condemn her for this characteristic, but channel it. For instance, I might say, “You know, God helps you to see when things aren’t quite right so you can be part of making it better,” Or, “How about you focus on the good here (instead of the bad) and be thankful for what you have.”

  • Child Naturally Drawn to Things of God

     The BEST thing about a prophet gift is how the child is naturally drawn to things of God. At their very core is an innate sense of “Truth” they can’t deny. It drives them to investigate things, to wonder and ponder events, and search out answers.  

     We were able to capitalize on this by teaching Abigail Bible stories that really sparked her interest.  Our main goal was to lead her to the greatness of God. We call it the “awe factor.”

     Children today are surrounded by so much technology, television, entertainment, and toys that compete for their attention. We wanted Abigail to find those things to pale in comparison to a God who parted the Red Sea and raised people from the dead.

     She learned to care that GOD (versus her parents) said that it is wrong to steal, lie, disobey her parents, and mistreat her siblings—and a man as powerful as Jesus Christ really gets her attention.

     A child with this gift naturally wants to do what is good and right because in their mind, to do otherwise is disappointing God.  

  • Child Has Prophetic Tendencies

     Inevitably, I have parents of these prophet children respond with frustration, questioning, “Then why do we find ourselves yelling at them so much?”

     These children are difficult because they often feel they know what is best for them instead of their parents.  Although they may not realize it, the gift God bestowed upon them enables them to “see” things in a prophetic way – even things parents miss.

     For example, this type of child can sense on a first impression whether someone is safe for them to be around. They know when they are in unsafe situations. They may not be aware of HOW they know these things but they know when their parents do not.

     While this may be positive in some regards, the negative side is that this can cause pride in the child and make them believe they know more than their parents. In addition, with their natural tendency to “zero in” on sin, they quickly identify sin in their parents, which can further undermine the parents’ credibility in their mind.

  • Child is Introspective

     Sometimes, it isn’t an issue of believing they know better than their parents. Sometimes it is an inability to focus on the person in front of them! They can be quite introspective and have right-brained tendencies.

     They can be so “inside” their own mind concentrating on something else, that they inadvertently tune the parent out. This isn’t disobedience. It is part of their personality and learning style. I find myself saying at least once a day, “Please focus; look at me.”

  • Child is Harder to Discipline

     Discipline can also be challenging because these children aren’t as sensitive as a child with a gift of mercy, serving, giving, teaching, or encouraging. Prophets need “tough skin” to be able to stand for what is right in the midst of adversity.

     Think about how the prophets of the Bible had to stand for what God said in spite of what the people thought of them. If they worried about what other people thought, they would have been afraid to carry out their mission.

     This plays out in our house with the difference in our approach to Abigail, our first-born, versus our second child, Rachel. Rachel is devastated if she receives a spanking or a harsh reprimand. The same treatment is like water off a duck’s back to Abigail. But this is what God has equipped her to handle for what He has called her to do.  

  • Child Has Roller-Coaster Emotions

     Part of their purpose involves intense emotions. Prophet children often have emotional highs and lows. I have never seen a person go from laughing to crying so easily. There seems to be quite a bit of drama involved.

     When we consider the “flare for the unexpected” that some of the prophets of the Bible possessed as well as the passion they exhibited, we can understand God’s purpose for this characteristic.

     We have been able to use this to our advantage when teaching Abigail about the Bible. We have role-played and acted out all the stories. She has had the opportunity to be Eve, Noah, Jonah, Samuel, David, Esther, Peter, etc.   She makes a great actress and this method really held her attention at a young age.

     However, it is the highs and lows of this type of child that make everyday parenting a challenge. There have been many days that I have had to repent before going to bed for my poor parenting that day. I feel like I am losing it. How can a child push me to this breaking point? If you have a child with a prophet gift, it comes with the territory.

     The key is training, training, and more training. They need to learn what to do with their emotions. It is critical they learn how to pray and process their feelings.

     Of course, this requires a parent with stable emotions and when Abigail pushes me to the limit, it is difficult to keep my own emotions in check and teach her at the same time! I often ask for God’s Grace and remind myself, this is a season and the fruit of the work will be worth it.

Tools For the Toolbox

  1. The foundation of a prophet child is his or her inner sense of truth. As Christian parents, we focus on teaching our children values and Godly character. However, as we see in our culture today, without grounding those values in Jesus Christ there are no absolutes.
  2. Everyone defines their own sense of “right” and “wrong” and values become relative to the situation. Prophet children must know WHY your values exist. These children look for a purpose in everything. Once they are grounded in these values, they are fiercely loyal and you will see their behavior change.
  3. One of the traps to avoid though is allowing your prophet child to become too “serious.”  This type of child can be prone to self-introspection. You will need to deliberately cultivate joy in them.
  4. Do not allow them to stay angry. Resolve issues in the same day by teaching them how to forgive others when they have been wronged and how to let God heal their hurt heart.  
  5. Since they are so prone to introspection, they have right-brain tendencies. You can help them develop more of a balance by engaging in activities that are more left-brain dominant, such as gymnastics, dance classes, or sports. This allows them to participate in something “outside” themselves. Remember to keep it light-hearted versus intense and competitive.
  6. You can also purposefully create times of laughter in your home. It is a great stress reliever for you, and your children will love watching their parents have fun. This might be dancing to a funny song or maybe your dancing is just funny! It could consist of a family wrestling match, a good game of hide and seek, karaoke, or story telling. Use your imagination and create something appropriate to fit your family’s interest and age levels.

You Can Do It!

     Parenting according to your child’s gifts can bring you a greater sense of peace and build their self esteem. The fruit isn’t seen so much in everyday life but in what they will one day become. Take heart, if you have one of these children, God hand-picked you as the parent. He knew you could do it!

Copyright © 2008-2015 Dorena DellaVecchio, Ph.D.

Reader Comments...
2010-02-03 14:21:29
"Thank you Dorena for this very insightful article. As you know my son has the gift of prophet and for many years I simply did not understand why it so difficult to parent him. Now that I understand his gifting and have researched more on the prophet gift, I understand what an honor it is to raise him up according to the gift that God created in him. I appreciate you greatly."
        - Katrina

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