If you were to sit down with a group of parents and ask them, “What does success look like in parenting?” you would get a number of different answers. Lots of people want for their kids to experience worldly success and live the “American dream” — whatever that is. We can all so easily become focused on that. We fall into the trap of believing that our job is to help our kids get good grades, get into the right college, get a good job, become good citizens, marry the right person, have the right friends, make good money, and the list goes on. We want for them to be “successful” in the world’s eyes. All of that is fine (at least most of it) and all things I want for my kids.
But, what is the goal in parenting? What are we aiming for in raising our kids? What’s the real target?
As I’ve worked my way through a few projects over the last several years, I’ve come up with a bit of a different target. You see, I know a lot of young adults (and older adults) who have achieved the worldly success, who have chased the American dream, who have been pushed and pushed for years and years — and who are still so very empty. They have worked hard in order to gain a platform and provide for themselves and their family, but they have missed so much along the way. They have chased after things of this world and have inadvertently sought to build their own kingdom but have only found a false sense of stability. As I think about my kids and what I want for them and their future, I’ve landed on a few things.
I want my kids to be healthy.The obvious first thought is for them to be physically healthy, but I only have a certain amount of control over that one. Aside from that, what I really want is for them to be mentally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually healthy. I want them to have a strong mind where they have the confidence to think on their own. I want for them to be able to stand up in the face of difficulty and not be thrown by the wind and the waves of life. I want my children to be able to look someone in the eye and have a real, face-to-face conversation that can lead them to deeper relationships. I want them to have a real understanding that the there is a God in heaven who is the author and perfecter of all things. I want for them to know that this same God is pursuing them, and they can pursue Him back.
I want my kids to know and love Jesus! We’ve been praying this for them since they were born. So much of what we try to do in our parenting points to this. We don’t have a lot of Bible studies and family devotions in our house, but we really do try to have a Deuteronomy 6 mentality with our kids:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord
your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all
your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to
be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about
themwhen you sit at home and when you walk along the road,
when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on
your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on
the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
So again, you have to determine, what is the goal in raising your kids? What’s your target?