In this life we often make two mistakes that cause immense amounts of pain. The first is to believe we are separate from God, thus rendering our lives void of meaning. The second is trying to find or gain that meaning from something outside of God.
We do this in many ways–trying to build up our bank account, buying or building a bigger house, getting a better car, and even serving ourselves into the ground trying to prove our worthiness to God and others. None of these work. But I think the most tragic way we try to gain meaning is through our children.
You know the scenario. The marriage isn’t happy, so the solution is to have a baby as the baby will give meaning to the loveless, lifeless marriage. When that doesn’t work, unhealed parents begin to strive to live out their failed dreams through their children. They put them in every camp, class, and activity that they themselves always wanted to be in–or were in but never quite succeeded at.
Then they begin to push and demand far too much from the child. Every misstep the child makes is met with condemnation and an order to do better (conditional love). I actually know parents who have taken their child out to practice for hours on end “to make them better.” Oftentimes doing so against the child’s will or better judgment.
The answer lies in the parent’s strained relationship with God. That parent, pushing their child beyond their limits in a sport or activity the child doesn’t even want to be in, is trying to gain meaning through their child’s accomplishments. The parent doesn’t realize that something “out there” — i.e. their child’s success will not give them the peace they so desperately seek.
The only thing that gives that peace is seeking God, falling on Him, and letting His love and acceptance flow through your life–not because you deserve it but just because He wants to give it to you. Until you find that, nothing “out there” will ever fill “in here.”
So if you’re a parent who is yelling at refs, forcing your child to be in an activity they neither want to be in nor like, or demanding your child excel for your benefit, it may be time to take a few steps back and ask if you are doing this for your child or for yourself.
Sit and talk with your child, ask what they want in the situation and in life. Do they like this sport or activity? Would they do it if you let them choose whatever they want? You see, their life is also between them and God. Their meaning in life is God–not pleasing you. But if you set it up so that they are trying to please you instead of God, you have set yourself up as an idol for that child.
Parenting is absolutely one of the hardest, most challenging callings on this earth. Just don’t make it harder by trying to do it unhealed and searching for your hope “out there.” Give your child the gift of putting God first in their lives, and give yourself the same gift. It can make all the difference.
Copyright Staci Stallings, 2012
Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a #1 Best Selling author and the co-founder CrossReads.com a new website that gives Christian readers and authors a place to meet and fellowship. With a newsletter, a blog, a forum, and other exciting, inspiring areas to visit, CrossReads visitors can find fabulous Christian books they never knew existed.
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