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Christian Living

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Family Matters 03/22/19

Living Vicariously through Our Children

Controlling mom

Parents, ask yourself, are you living vicariously through your children? Do you want them to fulfill your unfilled ambitions?

Children need to grow into their own unique selves, not simply be an extension of us. Otherwise, it becomes more about our unfilled wishes.

A friend of mine once said, "I want to give my children the life I never had." It's a caring sentiment, but parents can take this idea too far. Sometimes, our desires to give our children everything are more about us than them.

Maybe you are the stage mom who gets your esteem through your daughter's performance. Or, the dad who pushes his son to be admitted to an Ivy League school because you were rejected. Or, maybe you pushed your child to become a cheerleader because that was a desire you always had in high school. Whatever it is, we have to be careful not to push our children to fulfill our dreams instead of theirs.

One way to know if you are living through your children is to assess your involvement in their lives.

10 Questions to Ask Yourself:

  1. Am I pushy or encouraging?
  2. Am I trying to control their every decision?
  3. Do I focus on my own goals and model for them ways to achieve dreams and desires?
  4. Am I saying "we" instead of "you" when my child accomplishes something?
  5. Am I more worried about my child's success than my child is?
  6. Is being the best or winning more important than doing his or her best?
  7. Am I pushing my child in a direction he or she doesn't really want to go?
  8. Does my child have activities apart from me or is my life completely entwined with my child?
  9. Am I impatient with their development of a skill or talent?
  10. When they don't take top honors or first place, am I secretly angry or upset?

If you said, yes, to any of these perhaps you are living through your child. This can strain your parent-child relationship and stress out your child. It can lead kids to feel that your love is conditional based on performance and success. This end result can be feelings of resentment.

And consider this, your dreams for your child may not be their calling in life. So, check your motives. Do you know the passions and desires of your child's heart? Are you encouraging him or her to follow the path unique to them?

Our job as parents is to help our kids to discover their calling and support them in the journey. Encourage them to be who God made them to be, to seek the Lord in all they do, and walk in the confidence of the gifts and talents God has put inside of them. And while you are doing that, don't lose sight of who you are in Christ.

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