I’m Glad I Stopped This Craziness

Setting the timer for her kids, a mom instructs them to complete their math lesson within the given timeframe. “On your mark, get set, go!” was her command. With a competitive approach to parenting, her kids busily followed her cue. They got to work, each trying to finish before the other. Once completed, they began their next lesson at hand in much the same manner.  

Every moment of their day was filled with competition and beating the clock. They not only finished one full curriculum of subjects; they did two. Sunday was even a school day. Chores and extracurricular activities filled their free time. Every moment of every hour of each day was scheduled.

This mom’s greatest concern was that her children would have gaps in their education. She feared their failure. She figured to combat this was to do two rigorous academic programs that ensured they each would have all they needed to be successful in life.

This mother wanted the best for her kids. But what started out to be a good thing left her children tired, stressed, and overwhelmed.

How many parents are similarly driving their kids? How many children live with rebellion, depression, or anger because they feel so stressed? 

A competitive approach to parenting can be a silent killer to a child’s soul.

As parents who mean well, we can center ourselves around good things until they become destructive things.

The thing is this, driving our kids to succeed works.

It can make them successful. With this rigorous approach, kids can be CEO’s, Olympic Gold Medalist, Entrepreneurs; they can make a difference in this life, and be great among their contemporaries! Seems like a good idea, doesn’t it?

Isn’t this good parenting? It all depends on the focus.

If striving for your child to be successful is your only focus then it is not good parenting. Teaching kids hard work, faithfulness, responsibility, and time management do not have to be taught at the expense of their love for life or the lack of a carefree childhood. 

A people of long ago struggled with the same problem until God intervened.

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar.

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language, so they will not understand each other.”

So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel —because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth. (Genesis 11:1-9)

Like I said earlier, our kids can make significant achievements if driven to do so. Just like the people in this passage, God confirmed that the people could indeed achieve what they set out to because they were unified around one common goal.  

But they were centered around the wrong thing: Making a name for themselves.

I wonder if these people had a different focus how this story would have changed. Think about it, what if the people said, “Come, let us build God a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for Him.”

Would they have stayed in one place? Would they have had the same success?

I believe they would have built cities, not a city. They would have done as God commanded Noah, “multiply and fill the earth.” Instead of serving themselves, they would have served the world. I think they would have had even greater success because what man can do has limits, but what God can do cannot be measured.

Serving ourselves has its success, but with it brings the byproduct of disobeying God’s commands. We become busy with things in life that don’t matter, and we forget the One Thing that does matter – and that is to “Love God and love our neighbor as ourself.” (Luke 10:27).

Hanging out with this family, I was tempted to follow in their footsteps. I even did for a time. After all, they had great kids! Like this mom, I also worried about the gaps my kids might have in their education. But the more I prayed to God and asked Him to guide my steps, I stopped this craziness. And I’m glad I did!

God kept reminding me to focus on these three:

Love God.

Love people.

Love learning.

When we make these three essential in our parenting, we facilitate greatness in our kids. But it’s the kind of greatness that brings them peace, not anxiety.  

As our kids learn to love God, they obey His will. Their obedience can’t help but make a difference in the people around them. And if we give them the tools that facilitate a love for learning, they can succeed in whatever God sets their minds toward in life.

It is important to teach our kids to leave a legacy of God, not of themselves. We are only vessels that set a platform for His wonderful works to be seen through us.  And this, my friends, is a worthy mission to drive us!

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  1. Thank you for this, Marcie! The pressure to “keep up” with high achieving-type A parenting is enormous. And it’s easy to doubt oneself along the way as a parent even once our children are grown. I’m grateful to you for this wonderful post! Love your godly perspective and wisdom!

    1. I agree, Lynn. Even with our adult children this temptation to do more, be more, push more can plague us. Keeping the Real Focus is imperative. Thank you so much for your comment! 🙂

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