I was watching a reality show the other day – the ones where the little girls look like 20 year olds for crowns and money. I don’t normally watch the show as I get disgusted by it, but this one advertised a Christian mother and daughter in it and I usually watch shows like that to see how Christianity is represented or presented.
One of the dads on the show was talking about his little girl (4-5 year old group) and her involvement with the pageants. He was discussing her talent, desire to be on stage, etc…and at one point said, “I don’t really care about the perception. As long as she’s happy, I’m happy.” I cringed at those words. Is great parenting really about your children being “happy?” Is a 4 year old, or a 14 year old really able to properly discern the depths of what makes them “happy?” I know my 4 year old would love to eat Smarties candy at every meal. That would make her tremendously happy! However it would not be good for her.
I’m not advocating here that parents have gloomy, angry, sad children all the time either. There is definitely something empowering for a parent to see their children with smiling faces and joyous hearts. Obtaining that through an attitude of “as long as he/she’s happy” is not the way to do it. If we are to parent our children as God ‘parents’ us, then we know there are many times He says, “No.” Not because He desires us to live without happiness or joy, but because He knows that many things we ask for only provide fleeting or false joy.
What is a parent to do in a culture that breeds this attitude? Tell someone you’re denying your daughter’s request for a stretch limo for her birthday and you might receive a look that says you’re the worst parent ever! I believe the number one thing parents need to do is this – stop seeking the approval of everyone except God. Don’t base your worth on the approval of the soccer moms or the baseball dads. Don’t even base your worth on the approval of your kids! Base it on the leading of the Holy Spirit and the promise of God’s faithfulness…know that the times you don’t make decisions based on whether or not your child will be “happy” are hard times, but are SO worth it in developing a child who grows up to be a well-grounded adult.