There are few things in life that frustrate me more than watching other parents do things that hinder their child’s spiritual growth. This may sound arrogant to you, it probably is. I am not a perfect parent, not even close. I get frustrated with my kids and I even yell at the little darlings every once in a while. I think over the last eight years (that’s how old our oldest is) I have asked for forgiveness more times than I can count (but that’s another issue for another post). This post is about pressure. Overbearing pressure does exactly this, it hinders spiritual growth.
I see parents all over the place putting undue and unrealistic pressure on children. This pressure broadens a relational rift between parents and children that naturally occurs at this age. This is many times seen in the context of education. Today more and more kids are pushed into AP classes. These classes are taught at a very high level and are preparatory classes to test for college credits. I took AP classes in High School but I had a Mom who understood that these classes were designed too teach me how to think and do research and that I would most likely not get an A. Her concern was that I simply worked hard and did my best.
I think that the disconnect has entered in because it seems that a B is not good enough anymore. That an A is required fare to prove that a kid is “working hard”. These grades have become the ultimate driving force in a parent’s life. They punish their child for a B in a college level course that they themselves would have no chance to pass. Students are then punished for doing well enough. Their punishment is often times limiting their involvement in social interactions. This limit is applied to the their faith community too. The youth group is seen as a “privilege” that can be taken away.
Please hear me, I am not saying that we should not push our children to excellence. I am not saying that we should not encourage them to take on academic or athletic challenges.
I am saying that we need to help them bring balance to their lives. If we push them to be all consumed with their academics or their athletics then we are clearly communicating something. We are communicating that these are the things around which life revolves. The center of life is your ability to “achieve”.
I have this sad image in my head of many parents standing before the God, whom they love, asking why their child is not spending eternity with them. Jesus’ face turns grim and says, “My brothers and sisters you taught them that a grade was better than me. You taught them that a grade was better than my people. You taught them to set me and my people aside to study and get a B+ instead of a B. You taught them that "the now” matters more than their eternity did. You taught them to love themselves over me. You taught them to love being apart from me and now what you have taught them has come to fruition.“