“I would never behave like those crazed mothers on shows like Toddlers & Tiaras and Dance Moms,” we parents tell ourselves. “Spray tans on a four year old? Competition that takes all the joy out of childhood play? I would never live my ambitions through my kid!”
Parental ambition come in plenty of shapes and sizes. Most of them aren’t featured on basic cable, but are everywhere we turn during our active parenting years:
- The dad who goes a little ballistic about a bad call during his son’s Little League game.
- The mom who signs up her daughter for gymnastics at age four so she’ll have a better chance to make the cheerleading team in middle school, then high school, thus guaranteeing her girl the popularity the mom never achieved during her own adolescence.
- Braggy mommy playgroup talk focused on children’s achievements.
- Fathers who shrug off a child’s B+ as not good enough.
- The former high school thespian now directing church or community theater productions who automatically gives her child a plum role.
There is a particular strain of stage parenting that is especially noxious. Spiritual stage parents are those who live out their own need for the affirmation of their peers and/or their own church political ambitions through their children. Scripture tells us that one measuring stick for potential church leaders is a well-ordered family: “He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?” (1 Tim. 3:3-4).
A wise guideline can become a goad in the hands of a fear-controlled parent…