This seems like an odd article to write, and there is a good chance you will not agree with me. I still feel I need to write it for all the Christian parents out there to consider. Maybe it will stretch your thinking.
My children have won more awards than you can imagine. Seriously. We have boxes of their certificates and letters of achievement. We have trophies and physical awards that all of them have received through the years. You might not believe this because you have never seen me brag about them publicly. I try to never mention their achievements at Church or in a sermon. I post no pictures on social media. Rarely do my wife, or I refer to them publicly to anyone outside of the six of us. I only say them here to underline that I am not a bitter parent.
This lack of praise is not by accident; it is a conscious decision my wife and I made years ago that guides our parenting. Here are the reasons for it.
1.They have value from God. Their life has infinite value and worth for two primary reasons. They were created in the image of God, and they were redeemed by his son Jesus. Nothing adds to that and nothing takes away from it.
2. What about those who lost? For everyone who achieves there are dozens of others who lost. We have never wanted anyone to feel bad for coming in second. Their life has value and worth even if they are not successful (see #1)
3. Spiritual growth is more important than worldly achievement. Hear me carefully; you can win every award and be an incredible jerk. We care more about what our children become than what they achieve.
4. What happens when my children fail? It is easy for children to think that your love is based on their success. You are so happy when they are first, and you tell everyone about it. Second seems unacceptable and is unmentionable. We love our children even if they never win anything. We want them to know that clearly.
5. Pride. If my child is best at something, doesn’t that mean I am a better parent than other parents? If they had raised their child as I did, then maybe their kid would not be such a loser. It is funny how the success of my children can fill me with pride as if I were something special.
6. Flawed priorities. I think most awards are given to the wrong kids. It is rarely given to the nicest child or the kindest to underprivileged. We award good students rather than good people. Does the child who is raised in a single parent home struggling to help by keeping a job and their grades up deserve less recognition than the children of affluent parents who can focus only on one thing? Think it through.
7. Meaningful recognition is given without prodding. If I must tell you how wonderful my boys are before you will say anything nice, then it is probably fake praise.
8. No one cares. Just being honest. I believe the majority of people could care less that our child was the best in Jr. High at whatever. My favorite line in “The Incredibles” movie, “They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity.” I couldn’t agree more.
Now, let me end with this. I am proud of my children. I tell them that every time they attempt something. Win or lose? Who cares? First or fourteen? Does it matter? I love and care about them no matter the outcome of their life. When they win, I tell then I am happy for them, and God has given us a lot of reasons to be happy. But those stories are our secrets to keep.