Myths of Modern Parenting, Part III

Myth #3: The goal of good parents is to make their children happy.

Observation: Many parents today work very hard to make their children happy. The principle way they attempt to do this is often by giving in to their children’s desires. They shower their children with possessions and experiences all designed to put a smile on their faces. They order their lives around the child’s whims and wishes.

Problem: Now it is not a bad thing to seek your child’s happiness, but an approach that focuses solely on the child’s desires is sure to backfire. Children who have been reared by such well-intentioned parents often grow up to be demanding, always wanting more, having a sense of entitlement, ungrateful, often unwilling to give of themselves for the good of others. Ultimately, the happiness such parents desired for their children ends up being extremely illusive.

Instead parents should pursue for their children what God wants for them. He intends that they be holy. Romans 8:28-29 states, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Hebrews 12:10-11 confirm God’s good intentions for our children when it states, “For they (parents) disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but He (God) disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

God’s passion for our children (and parents, as well) is that they be holy, conformed to the image of God’s Son, yielding the peaceful fruit of righteousness. That means that they be given to God’s will and His mission, and that they learn in the manner of Jesus to lay down their life for the good of others. This is the path to happiness – it is counterintuitive, but when our children learn to walk its trail they are sure to experience its blessedness. The path of indulgence never leads to life.

One caution is in line here. By this I am not suggesting that we try to make life miserable for our children. Too many adult Christians in pursuit of holiness portray a Christianity that is so joyless they couldn’t sell it to anybody. True Christianity is compelling; it is joyful; it is full of life. Jesus said He came to bring us life and that abundantly (John 10:10). Children need to see that they are trading their indulgence for something far more satisfying – a relationship with Jesus, who contains in Himself the fullness of deity (Col 2:9). In fact, He is the only thing / person that will satisfy them in this life and provide for them an abundant entrance into the life to come.

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