If You Worship Your Kids There’s a Good Chance You’re Ruining Their Life. And Yours!
Can I let you in on a little secret? It’s one of those things everybody used to know but somewhere along the way it got lost and now it seems fewer and fewer people know this; but it’s no less true today than it ever was. The big secret is this: kids are not the center of the universe!
In the past I’ve written on the danger of becoming a narcissistic parent. But on the opposite end of the spectrum, and equally as dangerous, is falling into the trap of worshipping your kids and believing they are the center of the universe. Countless well-meaning parents fall victim to this idea that children are the center of the home and parents are simply there to serve them. One prominent family advocate shares this message:
“You think we might have created a culture (without intending to) in which we’ve ended up worshipping our children? The assumption in so many families is that the child is the center of the home, and that the parents are there to serve the child and ensure his or her perpetual happiness.”
But this is neither healthy nor is it biblical. There’s not one verse in Scripture commanding parents to make their kids happy – or entertain them. We do see verses about training kids (Prov. 22:6), loving kids (Titus 2:4), raising them in the discipline and instruction of God (Eph. 6:4), encouraging them (Col. 3:21), requiring obedience (Col. 3:20), and imparting spiritual truth daily (Deut. 6:6-9). But nowhere is there one verse about making them happy, entertaining them, or even buying them anything they want.
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar to you?
– The parents who look bewildered because their kids won’t stop dancing on the table or who have now broken Tonka truck #8 this month. The parents often sigh something about not being able to believe they have to buy yet another coffee table (their third) or yet another truck because their children are so “active.”
– The parents who stay up late doing homework with for their children and show up tired for work the next day. These parents rescue their kids mostly because they can’t imagine their child not doing well in school.
– The kids, who get in trouble at school, but know that mom is going to be on the phone to the vice-principal in minutes to find out why the teacher made the day difficult for her son.
– The dads who so adore their daughter that they can’t stand up to her, constantly compromising on consequences, spending and boundaries to ‘keep the peace.
These situations are indicative of a home where the kids are center and the parents exist merely to serve. This will also be evident in the schedules parents allow their kids to keep. Often parents talk about being “busy,” but what they really mean is that they are a shuttle service to their kids and don’t have time to do anything else. Between soccer, ballet, Scouts, school functions, and trips to their friend’s house, mom and dad end up doing little more than driving their kids all over town.
What is the end result? First is a selfish kid. Kids that grow up as the center of the universe end up believing that the world owes them something, or should pay attention to them simply because they exist. Rather than being externally focused, seeking to help others, these kids end up selfish and self-centered. And when these kids leave home and discover that it takes hard work to earn respect in this world, at times the results are catastrophic (think: 35 year old in the basement.)
Another result of this type of parenting is a lost relationship with your spouse. Because mom and dad are so focused on the kids and doing what the kids want and making the kids happy, they forget to continue to work on their relationship. Then, when the kids leave the house two strangers look at each other wondering what to do next. No wonder the divorce rate among people married 25-35 years is sky rocketing.
If you want to balance your marriage and family in a biblical way it must be prioritized properly. The order is simple, but must be followed and not altered. If it is altered in any way it will result in dysfunction. Here is the order:
God (my relationship with Jesus, service, giving)
Spouse (no one, not even kids should ever take the place of your spouse)
Kids (neither your friends nor your hobby should come before your kids)
Everything else (because from this point on things will look different for everyone)
With that order our lives will be balanced in such a way so as to encourage a deepening relationship with Jesus, thriving marriage, amazing kids we will be proud of, and a full, abundant life (Matt. 6:33, John 10:10).