How Well -Intentioned Parents Are Harming Their Children

SYLVIA MCCRORY      AUGUST 2020

Loving parents want the best for their children. They want to protect their children from harm. They want their children to excel in life and be happy. These are great objectives and we all want these for our children. There is nothing wrong with these goals, in fact, they are all commendable. I will not discourage or criticize anyone for wanting the best for their children.

First of all, I want to emphasize it is because parents love their children so deeply that they encounter these problems.  I am not saying to love our children any less. In fact, I encourage parents to show God’s love in the way we treat our children. And there is no greater love, than the love God has for His children. 

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.                                                  I John 2:15 (NIV)

Parenting is NOT for the Weak of Heart

Before we look at these problems, we need to focus on one important point about parenting. I think every parent will agree, parenting is a tough job.   It is the most rewarding job we will ever have, but it is also the hardest job.  Not all days are easy. However, with everything in life, we find the things we work the hardest to obtain, are the things we value the most. 

 

Let’s examine the problems one by one.

The way we go about reaching our objectives

It is difficult whether you are young or old, to go against the flow.  In other words, it is hard to be the one who is different.  Being different causes other people to make fun, ridicule, or treat someone as an outcast.

Most people who want the best for their children and families are willing to do those things which they feel will benefit their families. In today’s society, we are surrounded with advertisements promising us the touted product will make our children the best.  For example, some advertisers promise our children are going to be behind if they do not have their app, their instructional software, or their latest technology. Then, there are the friends, relatives, and coaches encouraging parents to hire tutors, personal trainers for that individual attention to help their children excel. And to be fair, let’s not forget the arts, if their children are interested in art, music, or dance, they will need classes for their talents. 

As I write this, I can feel all of the stress building. Parents are feeling stress to provide those supposedly needed materials and activities. Parents are no doubt feeling the pressure to make the investments of money and time into their children’s future. Then, children are feeling the stress of school, activities, and pleasing everyone. However, the biggest stress or anxiety is on the family to rearrange lives and schedules to deliver these needed extras.

In the above scenario we deliver the so-called necessities by purchasing whatever it takes. 

What is it we are trying to buy?  Is it success, is it security, or happiness?

The reality is hard for ALL parents.  For some parents it is harder than it is for others. IN ORDER FOR OUR CHILDREN TO BE SUCCESSFUL, HAPPY AND SECURE – THEY NEED TO PUT IN THE WORK!!   Simple right?  No, it is not easy, to require our children put in more work than others, or live without the advantages of others.

  1. Give yourself a break!!! Give your children a break!!!

No one is great at everything!! Children do not need, nor is it good for them physically or mentally, to be expected to be the BEST at everything they attempt. In his book, Too Much of a Good Thing, Raising Children of Character in an Indulgent Age, Dr. Dan Kindlon puts it this way, “Well-meaning parents can end up hurting their children by giving them too much.  Too much money, too many toys, too much leeway in how they can behave, too much help, and, too often, unrealistic expectations for about how they will perform in school or on the soccer field.”  He goes on to say, “Only when they have a sense of self-efficacy can we feel confident that they will be able to persevere in the face of adversity and forge a life that is purposeful and vibrant.” For children to feel confident in their ability to be successful and make the right decisions, they must be allowed to MAKE DECISIONS. We need to be prepared to let them make mistakes, to let them face their mistakes, and more importantly let them rectify those mistakes. “We need to understand how we as parents foster the difficulties our children face. Until we do we will be unable to change our own behavior and give them what they need,” Kindlon states. 

“The happiness of our children comes from their engagement in the world; from compassion, independence, emotional maturity, and a sense of their own self-worth that is tempered by humility and a joy in being alive.” Dan Kindlon 

Provide time for everything except family and possibly church.  

Are we fitting God into our activities, or are we fitting our activities into our time with God?

The Way We Interpret These Objectives

Most parents interpret these objectives to mean our children will be “at risk” of failing, unhappiness, and insecurity.  Advertising companies have done a wonderful job of informing parents about what their children must have to be happy and successful. Not only are they confident about the needs of children, they have never met, they provide a steady stream of these messages. 

  1. No one, except God, knows and understands the needs of your children better than you, their parents.

To make matters worse, parents seem to have an enormous amount of friends and family who are also confident they know what is best when it comes to their children.  

The Message We Are Sending Our Children

By our actions, we are telling our children they are not complete without objects. We are letting them know, no matter how creative, or imaginative they are, it will not be enough without the latest and greatest device.  We are also showing them our own insecurities.  We are showing them we don’t feel confident enough in ourselves to teach them, or work with them on a skill. There must be professionals, there must be sophisticated gadgets and devices to train them, we are incapable. 

More importantly, we are showing them it is important to have the best and attain the best. Playing sports should not always be about teams and tournaments. Children should experience playing whatever sport they choose, just because it is fun.  Families should spend time playing catch because it’s fun, not as training to win. Children should be afforded the luxury of exploring their own interests without the fear of grades or projects. 

Additionally, we are showing them we value objects more than people. Being wealthy and having a lot of nice possessions does not make us happy. True happiness comes from a relationship with God, and following the path Christ has shown us. Everything else is meaningless and holds no value. As Dr. Tim Kimmel writes in his book, Raising Kids for True Greatness, “ It’s not about you. Life isn’t about you or me. It’s not about our children or our plans for them. It is 100 percent about God. It’s all about God and His plans for us.” He later states, “ It will be about the Creator of their lives and the true Author of the amazing story that God wants to write with their lives.” 

 

  1. Let children be children!!!!  God has designed them with a natural curiosity and appreciation for nature.  Do NOT WASTE THEIR CHILDHOOD WITH DEVICES AND PROGRAMS.  Allow them to discover the fun of learning on their own.

 

When children reach school-age, they may require some devices. I encourage parents to monitor these devices to only school-related materials. DO NOT ALLOW DEVICES TO BE BABYSITTERS!!! Our children are much more valuable than that, they deserve real people talking to them, reading to them, and answering their questions. Allow God to be the center of their world, and yours. 

Copyright 2020 Christian Parenting Today. All Rights Reserved.

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