When is the last time, as an adult, anyone gave any thought to your stellar ACT score, or cared that you had perfect attendance, or that your little league team won the state championship? We praise and reward children constantly and then when they become adults, no one lavishes praise and rewards. As moms (and this applies to dads as well but I'm not a dad so I won't speak for them :) ) , we often find ourselves doing the things that no one else wants to. Nobody comes along and gives me a certificate for having perfect attendance when dealing with my children. No one gives me an award for teaching my child Bible verses or even making sure they brush their teeth. What I do, is not looked favorably on by the world.
"Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Ephesians 6 :4b
Life is not about fun and games. That may sound harsh but it's the truth. When fun and games and the rewards that come from them become the focus, most children can't function when those "treats" are removed. It's seems our culture is obsessed with letting "children be children" but the Bible says "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him." Proverbs 22:15
Our goal as parents should not be to let children be children. Our goal should be to raise Godly adults. Childhood is fleeting, even with eternity aside, we will spend much more of our lives as adults then as children. Doesn't it make sense to prepare more for the longer journey?
I Corinthians 13: 11 says "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." Here Paul doesn't say, I'm so glad that I spent my whole childhood getting on the honor roll or running track. He says that he put those things away. It's important to keep those things in constant check to make sure that we are working towards the final goal and not loosing the forest for the tress.
Are we preparing our children to put away childish things or crave them?
Now that I've written a novel ;) I hope you'll read the article below and glean something from it.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I Don't Want to Raise Successful Children
"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."
Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)
I don't want to raise successful children. That's a shocking thing to read, and a shocking thing for a mother to type. So, let me clarify.
I used to define success according to my child's report card. Good grades and academic achievement would surely equal a good child with great potential in this world. But then several of my children wound up being average students with average grades. Though we carted them off to tutors and spent many a late night at the kitchen table helping them, they remained average. And I remained concerned and frustrated.
One report card day I found myself facedown in the fibers of my carpet crying and wondering, "Where have I gone wrong as a mom?"
I dug into Scriptures. I begged God for wisdom and discernment. I prayed for God's perspective with each of my kids. Finally, one day it dawned on me - what if I simply chose to embrace the natural bent of each of my kids as God's way to protect them and keep them on the path toward His best plans for their lives?
What if my A student needs academic success to prepare her for God's plans while my average to below-average student needs to be steered away from a more academic future? What if my sports star kid needs that athletic excellence for his future assignments by God, but my benchwarmer kid is being protected from getting off course by her lack in this area?
And that's when it finally dawned on me. My job isn't to push success for my kids. My job as a parent is to recognize the unique way God created each child and point them to Jesus at every turn along their journey toward adulthood. Yes, I want my kids to learn and thrive and grow up educated, but it's not a flaw in me or them if they don't have straight A report cards and trophy cases full of sports medals.
Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it" (NIV).
I am challenged to ponder these words, "… in the way he should go." Are we training our kids that the "way he should go" is to chase worldly achievement or to chase God? Whatever they learn to chase as a child, they will chase as adults. Therefore, we must be challenged to honestly assess the way we are pointing them to go.
My daughter, Hope, is one of my average students. She has also warmed many a bench in the sports she's tried, and can always be found hiding on the back row of the stage during school concerts. Using the world's benchmarks for achievement, Hope wouldn't be seen as a child positioned for success. But God…
This past January, my 15 year old Hope, shocked me when she announced she wanted to go to Ethiopia with some missionary friends of ours and live in the remote African bush for the summer. Yes, she may not have trophies and straight A report cards but she does have a heart of gold. And because she's not entrenched in sports and academic pursuits that could have created obligations for her summer, she was free to go to Africa. Free to chase God in a really big way.
One of the first e-mails she sent me from Ethiopia read, "Mom, I've fallen in love with the AIDS orphanage children. They rushed at me when I held my arms out and I tried with all my might to hold all 30 of them at once. I love it here."
Now, don't get me wrong. I do expect Hope to return to her studies this fall, give 100% effort, and finish her high school career having done her very best. She will most likely then go to college. But she probably won't be delivering the valedictorian address or wearing the honors cords and medals. She'll be the one with a vision of a dying AIDS orphan pressing against her heart ready to chase God's plans to the ends of the earth.
So back to my original statement, I don't want to raise successful children. It's true, I don't. Though Hope's sister coming behind her is an A student and can always be found on the front row of school performances - we don't chase after success for her either. I trust God that she needs those things in her life for the plans He's unfolding in her life. We train with that bent in mind. But, we don't chase it. Just like Hope, we point her in the direction of God at every turn and pray like crazy.
I stand by what I said and I'll say it again, I don't want to raise successful children. Because--- raising God-honoring adults who will set the world on fire for Christ is just so much more rewarding.
Dear Lord, being a mom is a really tough job.
Please help me, teach me and show me how to define success for my kids.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.