Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Adapt to Your Child's Unique Design

Chameleon Parenting: Adapt to Your Child's Unique Design
Jill Savage

My fifteen-year-old daughter loves to go to the mall. She loves to
shop, but even more she desires to see how outfits are put together or
clothing is constructed. She dreams of becoming a fashion designer

She has a mom who hates to shop.

My twelve-year-old and nine-year-old sons love sports. Between the
two of them, there are baseball, soccer, and basketball games to
attend. They both love the competition and action of sports.

They have a mom who barely knows what the words "offensive" and
"defensive" mean.

Our two older kids loved music. They were involved in choir, school
musicals, and theatre. As a music teacher myself, I loved being a
part of their activities throughout grade school, junior high, and
high school. It was a natural fit to be involved in what they were
involved in. I could support their interests because they were my
interests too!

My three younger children are teaching me some new mothering lessons.
Just like a chameleon changes it's colors to blend in with its
environment, I'm learning to adapt to my surroundings and blend in
with my environment. I'm learning to be a chameleon mom.

What is a chameleon mom? She's a mom that realizes her child's
interests are different than her interests. Rather than discouraging
their interests, she chooses to adapt and take on the colors around
her. What that means for me is that I'm going to the mall more
often???not because I'm learning to love to shop, but because I'm
learning a new way to love my daughter. I want to step into her
world. I want to be her primary influence. I want to spend time with

For my boys, I'm learning the language of sports. There are
positions, strategies, and rules to understand. I'm mastering the
sign language of referees and umpires. I'm working to step into their
world and share in their interests.

If your children have different interests than you have as a parent,
you might need to become a chameleon parent. As you learn to change
colors, here are some tips to help you adapt:

Resist the urge to try to change your child's interests. Celebrate
their differences and launch into learning about their world.
Tame your fears about the future. One mom confided to me that she had
been discouraging her daughter's interest in the fashion industry
because of her own fears about the environment her daughter might work
in someday. Set your own fears aside and let your child explore.
Ask questions. Children feel valued when mom and dad show interest in
what they are doing. What was your favorite part of the game? What
does this term mean? What interests you most about this?
Acquire knowledge. Go to the library or surf the internet to find
more information and educate yourself.

Connect them to learning opportunities. Watch for community education
classes offered in the summer. Arrange for them to shadow someone
working in their area of interest. Let them explore their interests
freely under your guidance and encouragement.

Children need parents who are involved and invested in their life.
They need to know that mom and dad are willing to step into their
world and learn to love the things they love. This gives them
stability and value that will last a lifetime.

Chameleons change their color as a form of protection from their
You and I have to do the same. Our predators are busyness,
work and volunteer responsibilities, fatigue, and general disinterest
in things our children might be interested in. We need to adapt to
our environment to protect and prioritize the relationships that
matter the most.

The one thing a chameleon parents needs to remember is that this
environment won't last very long. Children's interests change over
time. Even if their interests stay steady, they grow up and leave
home in the blink of an eye. You only need to change colors for a
short season of time. Before you know it, you can go back to the
color that matches your interests and environment…until, of course,
you become chameleon grandparents!

Jill Savage ( is the founder and Executive Director
of Hearts at Home (, an organization designed
to encourage, educate, and equip women in the profession of
motherhood. She is the author of five books including
Professionalizing Motherhood, Is There Really Sex After Kids?, and her
newest release My Heart's At Home (Harvest House Publishers). Jill
and her husband, Mark, have five children and make their home in
Central Illinois.

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