Parenting Myth #2: Good parents develop peak performers!
Day 2 – Parenting Myth #2: Good parents develop peak performers!
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4, ESV
In August of 2017, Time Magazine, did a cover story called “How Kids’ Sports Became a $15 Billion Industry”. In the story, we read that “Little League participation, for example, is down 20% from its turn-of-the-century peak”, and that “these local leagues have been nudged aside by private club teams.” More and more parents are going all out to see their kids reach their peak in club sports. Spending ten, twenty, or even thirty thousand dollars a year for their training, travel, tournaments isn’t unheard of. “Joe Erace, who owns a salon and spas in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, says his son Joey’s budding baseball career has cost north of $30,000! A volleyball dad from upstate New York spent $20,000 one year on his daughter’s club team, including plenty on gas: up to four nights a week she commuted 2½ hours round-trip for practice, not getting home until 11:30 p.m.”
Athletics isn’t the only arena parents are pushing their kids to perform. Education is a much older competitive achievement parents want for their kids. A recent article in the Atlantic, titled “Private Schools Are Becoming More Elite”, summed up this idea. It went on to report that the decline of Catholic schools is making independent education less accessible to middle- and lower-class students. Once again, this emphasis on performance is being pushed on to our kids. Many parents would say that they “just want a better life for their kids.” Yet studies show that anxiety and depression are higher than ever. Meanwhile, marriages and families are interrupted for piano lessons, volleyball practices, and algebra tutors. What are we doing? We as a culture have somehow come to believe that our kids need to be best in everything they do. As a Christian, we need to hit the pause button. We need to look closely at the family values and see if they align with the scriptures. We need to take a spiritual inventory of the hearts of our children.
Fathers are called to bring their children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). This means to raise a child to maturity by providing for physical and psychological needs (from the Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament). This takes time, prayer, and reading God’s word. Yet, we ourselves are dropping them off in the hands of others, to instill into them skills that most of them won’t use in their careers. They may get a scholarship for college, but few make it to the professional level. Additionally, the investment into elite education should be called into question. When was the last time someone asked to know your GPA as an adult?
The truth is that the world isn’t run on the elite, it’s run on the ordinary, hard-working, relationally sophisticated people of our society. As I write this, I need to admit, I like to push my kids to excel as well. I am academically driven. I hold two master’s degrees, and come from a family of highly educated people. We are hard workers, and love more than anything our faith and our family.
As Christian parents, we must consider the craze in our culture with this peak performance trap for parents, and look to the Bible. We must one day give account to our Lord for the spiritual, emotional, and intellectual development of our kids. From the beginning to the end of our Bibles, parents are charged with the sacred duty of raising their children into mature adults, able contribute to society for the good of all people and to the glory of God. May it be with you as well. Amen.