Have you noticed that parents have been acting a bit crazy?
- The parents getting ejected at youth baseball games for harassing the umpires;
- The parents losing their minds at school board meetings.
- The parents schlepping their kids around suburban hotels that exchange uniformed weekday business travelers with briefcases for weekend uniformed children with soccer balls.
- The parents endlessly quarantining of their perfectly healthy children from Covid fear.
- The parents who insist money is tight while throwing birthday parties that look like Circus Circus vomited in the front yard.
Child-focused anxiety plagues every region, every social group, and affects both sides of the political aisle. It’s all a bit much.
There is a temptation to create lives where we don’t just love our children; we worship them. We arrange our lives around their calendars; we pack social media timelines with their accomplishments; we cancel plans because of their bottles, bedtimes, pickups, and playdates.
Nobody will argue with us. Few would have the audacity to call us out for loving our kids too much. But that doesn’t mean we are right. In fact, if our purpose in life is centered around our kids, we might be missing God’s true purpose for us.
After performing an exorcism, Jesus is visited by his mother and brothers. When they ask to see him, Jesus claims, “whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” (Mk. 3:32-34). On another occasion an anxious mom comes to Jesus to ask if her two sons could be his top aides when he becomes king (Mt. 20:20-28). Jesus uses it as an opportunity to ask them if they are willing to suffer and endure severe hardship. Jesus believes that the cost of discipleship is so great it must be articulated in the most severe terms to force followers to get it. He says that a person must be willing to “hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple” (Lk. 14:26). Did you see that he said “children?”
Is Jesus anti-family? Nope. He just believes that caring for our families is part of God’s larger kingdom agenda. He says we should care for aging parents (Mk. 7:11), and he cares for his own (John 19:26-27). He teaches us to trust God by assuming we can trust the integrity of our parents (Mt. 7:10; Lk. 11:11). He elevates the status of women and children well above what it was in the ancient world. Jesus loves our families. He just doesn’t think they deserve to be worshiped. He knows that if our children are always at the center then everyone else gets relegated to the margins. The kingdom of God isn’t interested in populating the margins.
Parents, I’m in this one with you. I have young kids. Maybe we need a kid addiction (KA) support group. This will help keep us kingdom-addicted rather than kid-addicted. Here are some commitments:
- My first love is God, not my kids
- My time belongs first to God, not my kids.
- My money belongs first to God, not my kids
- My decisions are informed more by God’s leading than by my kids’ preferences
Let’s kick the addiction.
We should not be the center of our kids' world and they should not be the center of ours. It’s too much pressure on them. It can only lead to a life of entitlement, anxiety, and disappointment. They deserve to see a much bigger world than the tiny existence of domestic veneration. Let’s take them off the mantle and lead them into the world. Let them walk. Who knows, they may wonder who created this place and who embedded it with meaning, beauty, and wisdom. It wasn’t them (Job 38-42). And it definitely wasn’t us. The first step to help them worship God just might be that we stop worshiping them.