Before we had kids, I read every major parenting book. I had stacks of books that I tore through, seeking to find the “best” method of parenting. To my disappointment, there was no universal agreement on what “best” meant. For some authors, if you placed a baby under 1 on any kind of schedule, you were certain to scar the child for life for not meeting his/her every need. For other authors, if you chose to co-sleep you were certain to raise a needy, dependent child incapable of developing a sense of self. Soon you start identifying with one camp or the other, and before you know it, you are a card carrying member of your chosen parenting philosophy.
Once your kids start growing and you have to make more decisions about how to direct their lives, your parenting philosophy starts to take on additional dimensions, particularly if you are making the effort to be an intentional parent. At every step of the way you seek to make informed decisions, so once you make the decision, you feel strongly about it. It might be how you choose to educate your children, how “naturally” you live or how adventurous your family is. It could be almost anything. But whatever it is, when you become so convicted of your philosophy and corresponding lifestyle that you are working more toward attaining that ideal than shaping a Christ-centered home, it can transform into an idol in your life . . . something you put before God, even if it is something that originated from Godly intentions.
The other day our family went out to eat for dinner after running errands for a couple of hours. Since we hadn’t gone straight to dinner from home, I didn’t have milk with us for Alexa (13 months). When the waitress came, I asked if they had organic milk. They did not. My heart literally sank. Alexa had only drank organic milk in her life and now, due to this ill-fated trip to the Rainforest Cafe, her “perfect” organic milk streak had been tarnished forever. When the waitress returned with the conventional milk, I blurted out, “Well, here goes Alexa’s first non-organic milk”. Bryan looked at me horrified and embarrassed. I had officially lost perspective.
I truly do spend a LOT of time choosing our food options, researching organic foods (and related issues) and making everything possible from scratch. For me, this was born out of a desire to protect my kids’ health as much as possible and to best honor the bodies that God has given us. Those two desires are completely consistent with Christian living. But when I’m standing over the stove feeling guilty for using non-organic corn starch in an otherwise “perfectly organic” meal, a line has been crossed. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be passionate about our convictions. It does mean, however, that we must be ever vigilant about anything becoming a more passionate focus than our relationship with Jesus.
What aspects of your parenting philosophy or lifestyle are at risk for becoming an idol in your life?
Take time to list just 3 ways you can demonstrate to your children that Jesus comes first in your life and in your home . . . then do them. Share your ideas in the comments!