We live in an age of overachievement. It affects adults and children alike. Alarming research shows that anxiety and depression in kids is at an all-time high. Teens report levels of stress higher than adults.
We push our children not just to do their best, but to be better than the best, to stand out above their peers. Children spend their days pursuing excellence in sports, academics, and myriad other activities—all with the expectation of getting into the best college, followed by the best job, and then, ultimately, a happy life.
We are worshiping the idol of parenting success. This idol tells us we must be perfect parents and place our hope in creating perfect children. Like many idols, though, the idol of parenting success can be difficult to identify, because it’s an idol crafted around something good.
Being a parent is an important job and one we should care about doing well.
We should strive to care for our children’s needs, to teach them, to discipline them, and to prepare them for life. We should want our children to do their best in school, to grow and thrive, to develop into people who can care for themselves. As Christian parents, we should seek to teach and disciple our kids in the faith so they would know and love the One who created them. These are all good things.
It’s also true that parenting well doesn’t happen accidentally; it takes intentionality and purpose. We have to learn what our children need and how to care for them. We must pursue wisdom in our parenting decisions. We may even need to use particular techniques or strategies.
But how do we know if our desire to be good parents has morphed into an idol that has gripped our heart? And where should we turn for hope instead?