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. –from the article I Don’t Want to Raise Successful Children by Lysa TerKeurst.
We’ve all seen it—the parent who pushes their child to succeed in a particular area. Whether it is academics, sports, the arts, or any other area, we want our children to meet what we define as success. Unfortunately we tend to consider our children an extension of ourselves, so if they don’t succeed we fail.
There are a few problems there. First, your child is completely separate person. Second, your choice of success for your child might be completely outside of his or her skills and talents. Finally, you might be denying your son or daughter the opportunity to excel in an area that you haven’t even thought of.
One of our associate pastors is a very young man with a baby boy. He said recently that he really doesn’t care what his son does for a living. He only hopes that his son loves and serves the Lord. That’s a wonderful attitude to have.
As we were raising our son, it was very easy to feel like I needed to compete in the my-kid-is-doing-better-than-your-kid contest that goes on between and among moms.
“My son made the honor roll again.” (I’m just glad mine passed enough classes to advance to the next grade.)
“My daughter made state in gymnastics.” (My daughter hasn’t made a team since t-ball.)
“My son’s finally decided on Cornell. Where is your son attending college?” (How do I make working in a coffee house seem virtuous?)
My son is 23, and I’m very proud of him. My son is a waiter. He’s lead wait at a nice restaurant. He also leads a discipleship group. He helps out with a youth group. He plays guitar and sings his own music. He sometimes speaks or preaches. He has reached an age where many of his contemporaries are getting married, going to grad school, or starting careers. By the world’s standards he’s not particularly successful. However, he’s completely self-sufficient. He has a plan. He has sought out mentors to help him make decisions and help keep him on course. He has friends who are like brothers and sisters. He is happy, and we have a wonderful relationship with him. Yes, he’d like to find a young woman to share his life and ministry. Yes, he’d like to find a job with a more stable income. Goals are good.
I asked him once what he thought we’d done right as parents. He said that letting him start attending his own church when he was 14 was the biggest one. He also never felt pressured to be the best at stuff.
Don’t get me wrong. We encouraged him to do his best. We told him that he could do his best when he worked hard. We encouraged. I also know that there were times when we pushed and pressured. Hey, we’re human. But, clearly those aren’t the times that stuck out to him.
I’m sure there were people who thought we were bad parents because we weren’t making him do better at certain things. That’s okay. Our goal was never to have a child who was cheered by the crowds. It was always to raise a man who was confident, loving, and happy. We’ve succeeded.