Parental Blinders

Written by Janet Denison
Published on October 20, 2015

 I was sitting at my son’s T-Ball game when I realized that his chances of becoming a major league player were not promising. The score was close and the crowd was cheering. His teammate was up at the plate but was told he couldn’t take his first swing. The reason for the necessary “time-out” was my son. He was still in the outfield, having a lively conversation with a player from the other team.

Later I came to a similar conclusion about basketball. My boys were both tall and able to shoot baskets with ease. Both however, tended to pass the ball to the guys they thought were better. Humility isn’t exactly what most coaches are interested in seeing from their players.

Parents typically enjoy sharing their children’s achievements. Technology provides a number of places to brag and compare. Even Sunday morning prayer requests might be used. For example, “please pray for my daughter, she has four invitations to prom and doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.” Or: “Please pray for my son. He has been granted a full scholarship to both Yale and Harvard and doesn’t know which school to accept.” Or how about: “Please pray that my husband and I will have great wisdom. The teacher says that our child is brilliant and wants her to skip a grade.”

Meanwhile, 99.8% of the other parents are wondering if their children will ever remember to put the lid on the toothpaste, feed the dog, or bring home the books they need for that night’s homework.

Some “friends” post photos of their happy family, smiling on a beach, each wearing the perfect white shirt and khaki shorts. Your last Facebook photo was a picture of your children covered in chili after eating the 24-inch chili dog—called the Boomstick—at the Texas Ranger’s game.

I was sitting in my trashed-out minivan one day, watching all the children walk towards the high school doors. Young people ran by shouting to each other, calling out to friends and occasionally giving one another high-fives. Each ran past a woman who was unloading a cooler and other items from her car.

That morning I watched my own son head towards the school, but when he passed the woman he bent down, picked up her cooler and offered to carry it for her. She looked at him with surprise and gladly accepted his offer. That picture is posted on my memory, and I would choose to share it today.

I drove home thinking about the times I had looked around and compared my child to one who made better grades, had more dates, or starred on a sports team. I thanked God for giving me that special moment of parental pride. My son had been thoughtful and kind.

All parents need a great set of blinders. If looking at other kids makes you think less of your own, pull out the blinders and put them on. All kids have flaws and all kids have strengths. The greatest gift you will give your children is unconditional love and the knowledge that you are more proud of their character than any trophy or achievement.

And next Sunday, try this prayer request: “Let’s pray that our children grow up to walk humbly with God and serve him through their priorities and successes.” (Of course that will just shut down the mom who wanted to pray that her daughter would be chosen for cheerleader!) Then, when you get home, go ahead and post that photo of your kids with the Boomstick. If people look carefully, they will realize your kids’ smiles are genuine, rather than posed for a camera.

“Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding” (2 Corinthians 10:12).

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Janet Denison

Janet Denison teaches others to live an authentic faith through her writing, speaking, and teaching ministry. She blogs weekly at JanetDenison.org and often at ChristianParenting.org.

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