Seth came home with a heavy heart. He had just been demoted to second-string. He was no longer a starter. He would still be playing a lot, but the coaches decided to give another player the starting job. He was disappointed, but this is not why his heart was heavy. Somehow he would have to tell dad he was no longer a starter. That was the moment he was really dreading.
Seth’s dad was always a star at whatever he did in sports. He never failed to remind Seth that he expected Seth to excel, so being second-second-string was unacceptable. Seth didn’t want to disappoint his dad. The sad reality is that Seth’s dad was living his life through his son. It was Seth’s job to be what his father had been. No child should have to bear that burden.
Living for your children will ruin your life and theirs. If your hopes and dreams are bound to your children, you will be disappointed, even bitter. If you expect your children to provide the comfort and support that can only come from God you will be deeply hurt. You will set yourself up to be disappointed and crushed when your children fail to meet your expectations. No spouse, no child can provide comfort that can only be found in God. God will have no other gods before him. Your first loyalty, your first love must be to God and God alone.
Children who have become the objects of their parents’ dreams and aspirations cannot bear that awful weight. This unbalanced focus on the success of the child is actually a form of relational abandonment. It is not the children who are being cared for, but the self-interest of the parents. This leaves children adrift and separated from their parents.
Your children cannot be your salvation. They cannot fulfill your dreams. This is ugly and self-serving, It will ultimately destroy you, your children and your marriage. Attempting to save your life through your children will consume you and them. Do not live for your children. Live for God!
If you cannot love God first, you will not be able to truly love your children. Teach your children, even your toddlers, that they are not the center of your world. God has already claimed that place.
This post originally appeared on Shepherd Press and was republished with permission.
Jay Younts is the author of Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, and he is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is a ruling elder at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.