February 7, 2012

Living vicariously through one's children

Have you ever noticed how some parents try to make their children dress and act a certain way, or be involved in a certain activity (e.g. music, art, sports, dance, etc.)?

I've noticed it as well.

I call it: living vicariously through one's children.

My theory goes something like this...

Parents who weren't athletic, beautiful, funny, popular, rich/privileged, top-notch-brains - dress their kids up in all of their dreams, perhaps unbeknownst to their children, hoping to somehow fulfill that life-long desire they had as a child. 

That's part of why, I think, parents tolerate their sons having long hair, or their daughters dressing like little women, instead of in age-appropriate clothing, or they get their kids involved in every after-school program imaginable.

Whatever happened to just letting your kids be themselves?  Yes, I do think parental insight and oversight are important.  But, sometimes a parent can push their child/children into something that they wanted to do as a kid, failing to realize that perhaps their own child doesn't really enjoy ballet, or soccer or the chess club.

This is NOT a rant against parents, or parenting methods used by today's parents.  For one, I'm not yet a parent, just a young adult observing the world.  Watching as culture goes about doing its thing.

I guess it all comes down to one of my pet peeves.

When I have children, I'd like to simplify their life, not make it more complex, complicated, hard to bear.  This world is crazy enough, and stressful.  Yes, I think encouraging our children to excel in their gifts and talents is something we should do, but not overdo.

Since I'm totally pro-home education, and plan on doing that with any children I may have, I think it's important to bring one's offspring up with a worldview firmly planted on God's word - Scripture.  And I think the three R's are essential.  Beyond that, how much of the extra-curricular stuff we pile on ourselves really matters for the Eternal kingdom?  Will our children be rewarded by God on judgement day because they know how to score a corner shot, or dance a quadrille, have memorized the periodic table, or can compose a piece of music?

My aim for my own life, and what I hope will be my husband's and my aim for our children's lives is to sharpen them into mighty and effective arrows for Christ's kingdom.

Don't get me wrong.  Academics are important.  Book learning has its place.  Knowing how to communicate in a way that is both concise and encouraging is key.  So is learning what 2+2 is, how to write your name, and read a book.

But there is more to life than the abstract.  What one can stuff into their brain.

Hands on, down-to-earth practical skills are really a part of every-day life and something I want to focus on with my children.  That and discipleship / character building.  I don't want to hinder my children's natural abilities and talents, but I also don't want them to be so focused on that aspect of their life that they forget the eternal perspective they should have.

So while I think music training, sports, art or chess are not necessarily wrong, I am more interested in seeing parents encourage their children to understand that we are in a spiritual war.  A battle for hearts and minds.  For souls, dying and lost - in need of Jesus.

I want my children to be storing up treasure for Heaven, where moths and rust can't corrupt them and where those treasures can't be stolen by a thief.  I want them to see how very much they owe their existence to their Creator, and how their life and its work (whatever that may be) should be aimed towards Him. 

To conclude:

Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
 Only what's done for Christ will last.

That is what I want my children to excel in.

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Thank you for sharing!