In part four of this series, I’ll offer some conclusions and solutions for reversing the trend of deifying our children. To catch up on the series, check out part one, two, and three.
Where do we go from here?
This is the important question. Hopefully you’ve read through this series and reflected on the situation, the parents you know, or even your own habits as a parents and thought, “There must be another option.” When baby Rex pops out of his mom’s womb he doesn’t deserve to be worshipped. He’s a child. To deify him really messes him up. And making baby Rex the center of your life really messes parents up, too.
It wasn’t always this way. It’s not meant to be this way. And our society just can’t move forward with it being this way.
Reflect on the goal of parenting
I actually think most parents never stopped to think about the goal of their parenting. Just like an engaged couple only thinks about the wedding day (and night) and not the marriage, that same couple thinks about becoming parents but not the goal of raising a child. Then the kid comes and their life gets upside down in a pile of photos and dirty diapers. The default goal becomes the American dream. They never stop to think that maybe pursuing the American dream will be a nightmare.
For me the goal is simple: I’d like my kids to become healthy, happy, and independent adults.
Certainly, I’d love to see Megan or Paul grow up to be more successful than me. I’d love it if they chose a career path that I can brag about to my friends. But as think about that last statement… “that I can brag about to my friends” I guess I really mean that I want to brag about how satisfied my kids are. Are they pursuing their dreams the way I did? Have they found a spouse they adore? Is their work fun and fulfilling?
Wow! That changes everything, doesn’t it? If my goal for raising my kids is that they are healthy, happy, and independent… I really can work backwards from that.
That affords me a working backwards action plan that is reasonable and in line with what I know of God’s plan.
God first, adults second, kids third
You don’t have to be a psychologist to know this is true:
- Healthy kids come from a healthy home.
- Happy kids come from a happy home.
- Independent kids come from parents who allow them to take care of themselves.
Rather than try to offer advice for raising a healthy, happy, and independent child– I’ll just off the questions that we wrestle through. We don’t have it all figured out. But we have determined that we will not have a baby Rex. Our relationship with God is primary in our marriage. Our marriage flows from our relationship with God. And we believe (hope, pray, beg!) that if we get that right, there’s a pretty good chance that our kids will become healthy, happy independent adults.
What does a healthy home look like? What role does church play? What are the rules? Are they comfortable and safe in their role as a child? What are the boundaries? What are the rewards? How does a healthy home talk to one another? How does a healthy home motivate children? What type of schedule does a healthy home maintain? How many nights of activities does a healthy home have?
What is the profile of a happy kid? Do they have chores? How are they treated? Are they given autonomy? Do they have friends? Are their lives scheduled? How is success measured? Are they a project to be managed? Are they trusted? How do they acquire stuff? What role does church play in a happy kids life? What role does discipline play?
Can they make choices for themselves? Can they care for themselves? Do they know how to clean? Do they know how to earn money? Save money? Budget money? Do they know what to look for in a friend? Can they handle social dynamics? Do they bear the weight of the consequences for their choices? Can they have conversations with adults?
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