A true story.
My husband and I inadvertently walked in on a telephone conversation at our daughter’s private school; it was between a teacher and a parent. The teacher indicated we should stay, but the part of the discussion we heard, and the expressions on her face led us to believe the subject was so unbelievable that we had to ask about it.
Hesitantly, (without revealing the identity of the caller) she confirmed our suspicions that a parent of a child entering Pre-Kindergarten was asking about the best extracurricular activities – to engage in now – to promote the child’s achieving the highest possible SAT scores.
We grimaced and none of us shared what we were really thinking. It would have been disrespectful to the teacher and caller.
However, I thought it bizarre that a parent would be seeking opportunities for a pre-schooler that would ultimately result in the highest possible scores for college entrance exams.
Was this the unspoken fantasy?
My child will have
the best possible advantages at all times,
to receive the best instruction, coaching, tutoring,
whatever it takes to make the highest possible scores,
to gain entrance into the top universities,
where they will join the best sororities or fraternities,
to make the most important and influential friends,
which will help them land the best possible job positions,
to ensure that they receive the most superb opportunities,
to make the most money and receive the highest notorieties,
so they can live the best life possible with power, prestige and influence.
This perspective connotes that the outcome for the success of a child lies in the parent’s willingness and ability to push them to their highest potential, give them the best opportunities and ensure that they are surrounded by the right people that can make things happen for them.
Did this parent really feel the weight of responsibility to make those things happen for their Pre-K child?
Did they not believe in a Sovereign God that specially and intricately knit their child together in their mother’s womb with distinct God-given gifts and abilities that were decided before conception? (Psalm 139)
Why were they electing to send their child to a Christian school if they did not trust God to open and close doors on behalf of the welfare of the child and guide and direct their lives? (Proverbs 3:4-5)
Was it to increase the opportunities for their child to receive love and nurture from teachers and staff that were gullible enough to embrace this notion?
Bryan Caplan says in his new book, Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think, “Parents take it upon themselves to constantly entertain and "enrich" their kids with a course-catalog of activities (Capoeira, violin, Mandarin lessons) in a desperate effort to give them ‘the best’ and set them on the path to a triumphant adulthood.” Caplan sees the world differently and believes that parenting does not play such an important role in determining a child’s destiny in life, rather that genetics or nature trumps the efforts and influence of the parents.
Conversely, Amy Chua, author of the highly controversial book, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom, purports that tiger mother's cubs who are being parented “the Chinese way” with high demands to perform well are being raised to rule the world, while the offspring of "weak-willed," "indulgent" Westerners are growing up ill-equipped to compete in a fierce global marketplace.
We all want the best for our children and the bible tells us to train up a child in the way that they he should go and when they are old, they will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). We have a responsibility to dig and find the deeper meaning in that scripture and parent our children as the Holy Spirit parents us…..with love, grace and authority. We want to be responsible in all things, but not miss blessing our children for their distinctiveness (for who they are and not what we can turn them into) that was ordained and created by God. His works are marvelous and as parents we have the privilege of witnessing the handiwork of God by observing and experiencing the unique qualities that each of our children possess, that God intends to use for His good purposes.
Children are a blessing and gift from God. Take advantage of and use the resources God has provided to give your child advantages, encourage and discipline them, but do not try to make them into something that was never intended. Embrace God and who He created your children to be and become, and let them get a good taste of God’s love and acceptance from you.