Before I get too far along with this whole “good kids as a myth” series I think a definition is in order. When I refer to the terms “good” or “goodness” I mean it in the common moral sense. Moral good has to do with the conduct of persons usually resulting in praise or blame. So when I write about parents wanting to have “good kids”, I mean that parents want to have kids that display certain positive behaviors. As we will see, it’s common to confuse behaviors and conduct with ultimate goodness or what we might call righteousness.
OUR PARENTING IDOL
I’ll be honest, I want to have good kids. I want them to say please and thank you, respect their elders, not punch each other, stay away from pornography, and go to church. Is that too much to ask? Well…it all depends. I have recently found that my desire to have children that behave in a certain manner is rooted in a personal idol of mine. I want to be affirmed as a parent who has good kids, because if my kids behave properly that means I’ve done my Christian duty, which also means I have value and significance. And it is at this point that I should note, the gospel is NOWHERE to be found in this type of thinking. God’s grace given to lost people like you and me, (and yes…even our kids) is completely absent from this sort of moral idol worship. It’s easy to want to work toward good behavior, but it’s difficult to trust in the work of the Holy Spirit. In today’s evangelical culture, good behavior is a prized possession. I had a senior pastor tell me that when it comes to his sermons one of his main goals is, “behavior modification”. I’m sorry, I’m pretty sure our main goal is to preach the gospel and trust in that to “change people”.
Valuing good works and proper behavior as a means to an end is called moralism and if there is one thing God hates, it’s moralism. When we start asking what can we do, before we consider what God has already done in Jesus, we’ve abandoned the gospel and are now relying on our own power. Our children need more than our limited parenting power, what they need is the gospel of grace that God, by his grace, has entrusted to us as parents to share with them.
Your value as a parent is not found in your parenting efforts, instead it is found in your being created in the image of God. Your value lies outside of your self, firmly in the person of Jesus Christ and there isn’t any parenting blunder you can make that changes that. Be freed from performance, repent, believe in the gospel.