Kids Will Be Kids

teachers-pet-4-200x300Nobody likes an over-achiever.

Football teams that run up the score against an inferior opponent get under our skin. The guy with no life who’s always getting the boss’s coffee rubs us the wrong way. And who can forget Betsy Sue, the teacher’s pet who helped grade papers at recess?

Sometimes our aversion to the over-achiever informs the way we parent our own kids. And rightly so. Raising kids to perform perfectly can lead to frustration on the one hand and pride and self-righteousness on the other. Kids shouldn’t have to have perfect hair, perfect clothes, perfect grades, or a perfect batting average 100% of the time.

So how should we arrive at appropriate expectations for our kids?

Most parents decide what kind of behavior is reasonable to expect from a child, given his/her age and ability, and hold the child to that standard. If they can reasonably do ________, then we ought to expect _________.

Sound good?

Unfortunately, holding a child to a reasonable, attainable standard of behavior can run the risk of raising children who meet–or even exceed–expectations. Why is this a potential problem? Here are a few reasons:

  • Children who are expected to behave only insofar as they are able are given permission to sin. God’s standard is perfection, yet we often communicate that to fail this standard is “only human.” After all, kids will be kids. No big deal.
  • Children who are able to behave up to their parent’s standards (morally speaking) are never led to seek anyone’s help. They’re never at a loss. They’re completely self-sufficient (again, morally speaking). Is that the heart attitude you want to develop in your child?
  • Parents who hold out a standard based on what is reasonably good behavior fail to point to God’s character as the foundation for obedience. How can you communicate God’s holiness or justice if you only correct your child’s behavior based on arbitrary standards you made up?
  • Ultimately, children who are never led to believe that they fall short of God’s holiness will have difficulty understanding why they need God’s help at all. “They that are whole have no need of the physician” (Mark 2:17).

Don’t raise an over-achiever. But don’t hide from your children their need of the Savior by holding them to a reasonable standard. Confront when they sin and direct them to their need of grace to even begin to obey God’s commands.

A generation that understands the love of God must of necessity understand their need of it. I want my kids to be a part of that generation, don’t you?

One Response

  1. Excellent challenge!

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