The abortion industry, which Christians tend to attack the most, is one (glaring) piece of evidence for a much larger cultural idol: limitless freedom. Kids hinder us from doing (or being) what we might do (or be) if they weren’t around to limit our options. We view them as weights around our ankles. It is the idol of self — of determining our schedule and deciding our priorities based on what we want.
There are five minor prophets living in my home, all under the age of thirteen. They preach at me continually with their actions and words, exposing my heart for what it is at levels previously unknown. They are my children. When I became a parent, I thought I was ready to address the heart and motive behind their behavior, but I never realized how quickly they would address mine.
When They Fail in Ways We Succeeded
My friend was an amazing athlete and played sports in high school and college. His son can’t catch a ball. It’s hard for my friend. Why?
Parents often act as though our role is to shape our children into an idealized version of our younger selves. Were you good at sports? Your kids should be as well. Could you play the piano? Your children’s progress will be measured based on where you were at their age. Was school easy for you? It should be for your children. Love a certain hobby? They should too!
And if they fall short, we often drive them forward even harder toward our idealized version of ourselves. They must be better than me at the things I was best at. If we have the money, we pay tutors and camps and personal trainers to make it happen (which are not wrong in and of themselves). This is how we turn children into trophies. If they don’t measure up or surpass us, we may subtly begin to hide them and make excuses to others for their shortcomings.
But what does Scripture say of your children (and of God)?
You formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:13–14)
Are our children wonderfully made to be exactly like us? God has uniquely created his image-bearers and gifted them according to his plan, for the sake of his glory, not ours. We are to develop, encourage, and use these gifts with humility (Romans 12:6–8). The apostle Paul might say, we should not force our kids to be a foot, when they are a hand (1 Corinthians 12:12). Perhaps we need to lay down the love for ourselves that eventually judges our children based on what we are good at and love.
When They Copy Our Sins
I used to cheat and steal. When I was a new teacher of high school students, I caught a student cheating in my class. I lost it. I tend to judge others harshest for the sins I have been enslaved by most. When my children try to cheat and take something that does not belong to them, that anger emerges.