What is “Best” for our Children?
A few days ago, Felicity Huffman was sentenced for her role in a disheartening college admissions scandal where she schemed to falsify her daughter Sophia’s SAT scores. In a letter to the judge presiding over the case, Felicity shared her daughter’s reaction to the news. Sofia said, “Why didn’t you believe in me? Why didn’t you believe I could do it on my own?”
Could Sophia have succeeded on her own? If her SAT score was not high enough, could she have tried again or chosen an alternate path?
Certainly. And as things have turned out, this would definitely have been the better choice. But even without the scandal, it is highly possible an honest assessment of her strengths would have guided her to a place of personal satisfaction and fulfillment.
As a parent, I can testify that most of us want what’s best for our children. However, best is a tricky word. What’s best may not always be what’s easy, for us or our children. Allow me to make a few “best” suggestions:
It is best that we spend as much time as possible with our children. Unfortunately, due to financial realities or career expectations, many parents must spend extended periods of time away from their children. I am aware of a mother who holds down three jobs to provide for her children. However, I am also aware of households where parents work more than is necessary so they can purchase things they don’t need. They delegate the greater part of their children’s moral guidance and emotional support to others, and provide them with lots of cool stuff. Yet, stuff is not the same as substance, and observation tells me children will ultimately choose their parent’s example over the instruction of others.
It is best that we hold our children accountable. Perhaps you have tried to hold a child accountable, only to run into a parent who defends him, unconditionally. Some are convinced their children’s problems are always someone else’s fault, and their children are forever the victim. It is good to protect our children from abuse or bullying, but there is something to be said for letting them fight their own battles and take responsibility for their own mistakes. Even if the facts support their innocence, if our children are not in danger, it might be best to let them work through life’s injustices. In doing so, our children might learn to treat others with greater sensitivity, or to use discretion in their conversations. When we encourage our children to embrace life’s imperfections, and help them find their own solutions, they gain wisdom and learn how to manage difficult situations similar to the ones they will face as adults.
It is best to make the worship of God a priority in our child’s life. I have heard parents say they don’t want to burn their children out on church, for fear they will turn against it when they are older. Certainly, children need balance so they don’t live in a religious bubble. But experience tells me a child is much more likely to abandon something that has never been a priority. Children not only need to learn about God, but they also need to experience growing up in a faith community. In community, they learn how God takes people from every walk of life and puts them in His church. They learn to demonstrate unselfish love and service, and find joy in walking with others sinners, saved by grace. In respect to children burning out on church, I have discovered they are much more likely to dismiss church because of the things their parents say and do than they are because of overexposure to worship.
It is best that our children have a good example to follow. This is the irony of Felicity Huffman’s crime. In her desire to provide the best for her daughter, she robbed her of the best thing she had to offer her: a family name with a good reputation. The best thing we can give our children is the best person we can be. While we need to be careful what we share, we should acknowledge our sins and show our children, by example, how to repent, seek forgiveness and walk with humility. This doesn’t mean we should live in a perpetual state of spiritual regret. On the contrary, our children need parents who live confident lives. Parents who have the courage to take on personal struggles and grow in their walk with the Lord.
If giving our children everything was the secret to success, then America should have the most perfect citizens in the world. We know better.
The “best” is not what we think.
Yes, our children do deserve the best.
It is up to us to discern what it is and provide it in abundance.