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Podcast: The Dangers of Idolizing Our Kids.

Do you expect something out of your kids that they shouldn’t or even can’t give you? We try all kinds of things at the expense of our children to get what we need. Is your image or value related to how your kids behave?

Join Josh and Kit as they unravel what love looks like in giving our children the freedom to be who they are, and taking them down from the pedestal we have put them upon.

Click for Full Podcast Transcription

Josh 0:07
Welcome to the regeneration ministries podcast. This is Josh Glazer. I’m the executive director of regeneration ministries, we know being a human being can be beautiful. And it can also be messy with this combination of physical, emotional, sexual, relational and spiritual. Jesus knows this too. So each week in this podcast, we address topics to help you become more whole more the men and women that God designed you to be.

Kit 0:31
So I remember this time when my daughter was a young teenager, and we were talking about something that I wanted her to do. I was trying to teach her about something, a behavior or a way of thinking about things. And she said, Mom, you’re totally guilting me here. Do you realize what you’re doing? And I had to step back and realize that I really had gotten myself into a situation where what my daughter did or didn’t do, and if she thought like I did, and if she behaved the way I wanted her to that, that that was really defining me and my value. And I was making an idol out of her. And I was depending a lot on my well being being based on how she feels about me and how she’s living your life. And that was totally unfair.

Josh 1:17
Yeah. So Josh Glaser, and khitomer talking today, this is we’re going to talk about today about idolatry. And this can really apply to all different kinds of relationships. So wherever you are single, married kids, no kids, there’s something in here for you. But but we’re really going to center our conversation today around this phenomenon we’ve noticed about in our own lives and others, about where we idolize our kids, where we treat our kids as idols in our in our life. And so a simple way of thinking about an idol is an idol is anything that you go to, for something else for validation, for meaning for value, for self worth, for your own sense of security. And interestingly enough, even though as parents, we’re really meant to be the caregivers for our kids, many of us kind of flip things on their head and end up making our kid our kids idols that we’re going to for something that really they were never designed to give and can’t give. Kid thanks for your, your story, I can certainly relate with that. I think there are a lot of ways over the years where I notice, the way that I’m treating my son or daughter, and some of the feelings I have around them is connected to my own my own kind of knee jerk idolatry, where I’m expecting something out of that relationship or expecting something out of them that they can give. I’m not sure why that’s so common for parents, but I think it really is. And I think some of the, some of the ways I’ve noticed that manifesting. One is, like kind of similar to what you mentioned, like where a son or daughter’s going off the rails a bit in one way or another. They’re they’re, they’re disobeying or they’re not acting in a certain way. It produces this, this larger response than then then like, why is it so important to me that my, you know, my son or daughter keep their elbows off the table? I want to teach them that, but why am I getting so emotional about that? I’ve got some investment in there that’s not really about that it’s about them. Why is it so important that my son or daughter succeed at sports, or be the who they are an orchestra or they get certain kinds of grades, I mean, those are all I think manifestations of, there’s something more on placing on a son or daughter shoulders than just just this very moment or something. Other other ways you see that?

Kit 3:32
And there’s that there’s that thing, you know, we’ve talked about this before, you know, we all have this thing, this emptiness, this hole inside of us that we’re trying to fill to feel good about ourselves, you know, to feel some sense of wholeness or contentment. And so, I think we try all kinds of stuff, too, you know, and kids are one of them, you know, well, if I can, if I can, you know, be a good mom, and if my kids are good, well, then that’s, you know, going to be the thing. And I you know, it is funny, I remember just when you were talking, I was remembering, you know, we waited a while to be able to have children. You know, we we, when we adopted our two children that our first daughter, we were elated. And so, you know, I wanted I wanted to be a good mom so bad. And so I think I got caught up not even knowing it, like when she was little and you know, she was an introvert, but I wouldn’t, you know, I would always make sure if we were at church or something, she would look into someone’s eyes and say hello and smile, and you know, like, Oh my gosh, like, why do we do that to kids? You know, it’s one thing to be polite, and you know, but it’s another thing to like, force them to do something and so it started even way back then, you know, that my my image was was related to how she was going to behave and it and so I would be controlling and be upset about it in ways that were over the top.

Josh 4:50
Yeah, it’s kind of like this. This is an extension of me. Yes. You know, my son or daughter how they’re acting as a people what kinds of grades are getting how they’re doing in sports, like some of this is supposed to tell everybody Something about my worth my value, like how they should feel about me. And this is I mean, it’s cultural, you know, like, Oh, you know, you if your kids doing well, and something other people will come over and say, Hey, you must be a great parent you, you know, you must you’re doing something right in your home. And, and maybe you are, maybe you’re not I mean, I’ve we’ve met enough grown people here, who had wonderful parents and who are really, really struggling in life, or people who are doing really, really well and have made great progress through really difficult situations and had terrible home lives. Yes. And so that kind of even the credit, we would take either way for their successes or failures, there’s something there’s something right in it, there’s something wrong about it. And I think Yeah, and the thing, another thing, because you mentioned, because our kids mean so much to us. And there’s we I think innately sense there’s great power that they have just in our hearts, because it’s such a beautiful, wonderful thing to have children, whether biological or adoptive children, like, it’s a wonderful thing, kids are amazing. And so there might be something in us that kind of leans into them, almost because of that power, that’s good. But that power, that love we’re experiencing is something that God has, has kind of wired into us as parents, it’s not emanating from our kids, because of you know, that they’re not gods and goddesses there, you know. So I think there’s some confusion that may seep in there

Kit 6:25
well, and you know, when they’re little, and you’re doing that to your kids, that can be relatively innocent, and it’s still not a great thing to do to your kids, but can be relatively innocent, but then as they grow older, and if you if, if I, I feel like I’m still learning about this, but if we don’t learn, you know, to let our kids be their own person, if we begin to, you know, believe that are controlling them, they have to do what we want to do that somehow they still are an extension of us, then it becomes really complicated, then it becomes actually, you know, really detrimental to not only their life, but your life because they need to claim their life and you need to claim your life. And so this individuation isn’t a critical thing. And I, I hear a lot about that you my kids are talking about that with me. And I see it with clients that I have

Josh 7:11
heard somebody say recently, I thought this was so wise, they said, as we have to recognize this about God, and it certainly has extensions to us, that God is is not actually in control. He’s in charge, but he’s not in control. And what the person who’s saying was specifically, guys that pulling all the strings and making everything happen, he is sovereign over all of time, and all of history of creation. And he is working all things together. But he is not he is not manipulating every situation to a certain outcome, there actually is real freedom. And so as parents or in any relationship, but his parents, there we are, we are called by God for a season to be in charge of our kids but but not to control them not to be in control they do. And I think part of what you’re pointing to is when we when we place on our kids, our expectations of what they need to be so that we’re going to be okay then we’re putting a weight on them. That’s just too much for them to bear their their kids, they’re not able to bear I mean, you know, we struggle enough with our own VAT. Let me speak for myself, I struggle enough with my own sense of self worth and value to place. And it’s a lot for me to bear to place it on on my my teenagers is just not fair that they are they’re dealing with enough of their their own life they’ve got their life to

Kit 8:26
I like what you’re saying, because I think it is it’s obviously we are overseeing we’ve been given responsibility to oversee the raising of these children, I think we take that very seriously. We are not honoring God, if we decide well, I I know who this person is going to be, I’ve already determined it, I’m going to control it so that it comes out a certain way, we’re not honoring the fact that this person is developing and that God has given him you know, he or she a true self. And that’s going to evolve over time. If we try to, you know, manage it and control it so much. We’re actually not honoring God and His creation. So there’s, you know, there’s a tension there between, you know, having authority as a parent that’s good and right, and then controlling them in a way that does not allow them to be the person God created them to be.

Josh 9:15
Yeah, and I think the other the other thing you’ve pointed to before was, not only will it can it crush our kids, I think living that way will end up crushing us. Absolutely. Because they are because they’re not built to carry the weight of God on their shoulders. Then when they begin to fall when they falter. When they fail when they struggle. If they pass away, if they make choices, life choices that are really hurtful, then then we’re lost. And where do where do we go and I I heard this guy Ken blue years and years ago said that God loves people, but he hates other gods. And I think scripture bears that out. And I think when we make an idol of anything, there, there will be a time Bye guys. Mercy, there’ll be a time where that idol is going to come crashing down, we’re gonna be face to face with this reality that, that they can’t sustain all that we wish they could contain.

Kit 10:12
And, you know, it is so interesting, isn’t it when you hear about, you know, we talk about that God’s love is characterized by freedom, not control. Yeah. And yet, you know, so if that’s God’s love, and that’s kind of the kind of love we want to have for our kids, but we rarely think about it that way. You know, we, we often think about parenting as controlling, and I’m certainly learning about this, you know, raising my children all through the years, and then now that they’re older, you know, that, what does love look like to give them freedom to be who they are? and not try to control it? You know, and I think that’s, you know, God has given us an incredible gift in that. And he also, you know, speaks to us about truth, but he, but he doesn’t, like, push, you know, and, and control. And

Josh 11:01
so what’s, what’s the difference between parents of any age controlling their kids, so younger kid, older kid, kid out of the house versus giving our kids freedom? Like, what’s just one real practical, tangible example of that?

Kit 11:15
Well, I think that, you know, I don’t think I had as many conversations with my kids as I wish I had I tried tried to do it now, like, Well, what do you think? Right, you know, sort of like, Well, here’s what I think. And that’s what you’re gonna do. Yeah. You know, to be like, you know, what do you think about that, you know, like, instead of sitting on opposite sides of a table having an argument, and what does it like to sit on the same side of the table and work to agree on something, you know, sorted out, work it out? Let me hear your thoughts. Let me understand where you’re coming from?

Josh 11:46
Yeah. Oh, that’s so good. So yeah, we, my wife, and I joke, like, when our kids are younger, we can brainwash them, you know, we can, we can let them know what they believe, you know, and who they are and what our values are. As they get older. And we’re experiencing this. They’re letting us know where they disagree. And I actually had an experience recently where, and just for time sake, I won’t get into the details. Plus, I haven’t asked this particular modified version. So in general, I remember we were watching a show with our teenagers. And it seemed came on that I had a strong opinion about and a strong reaction to and in my mind, this is a very immoral thing they were showing, and but they weren’t showing it in that light. They should they’re showing it like as a good thing. And I, I said, Look, that’s just that’s what they’re doing there is really wrong. You kids need to know that. And one of my daughters just kind of piped up and said, That’s not fair. That’s not fair. What you’re saying and you’re communicating something that’s not that’s not accurate. And, and at the end of the conversation, I backed down, because I was realizing I can either push my my agenda here to try to let you know, because I really want to hear you say the right thing, which I think in the end would have really just let her know, you can’t be you with your opinion here. Unless it lines up with me, which cuts off the relationship, then then I can’t hear from her what she’s thinking and feeling and going through, then it’s just her echoing back.

Kit 13:01
That is such a great example. Because don’t we want our children to have a sense of self, right? And we don’t, we don’t want to say yeah, be a rebel, and you know, but we do want them to, to, like have a sense of who they are and what they think and what they want. Like that’s empowering. Just like God wants that for us. He wants us to be that true self that he created. He totally wants that. And so I think that’s a beautiful example. And you know, my daughter, one of my daughters, I can’t remember exactly how old she was. But this kind of relates to what you’re saying that there was something going on in a restaurant, and I was making an observation about something that another parent was doing or not doing. And she goes, Mom, not every moment has to be a teachable moment. Yeah. I thought, and that really took me aback, I really had to sit with that. And really, that taught me a lot like, wow, like, I’m just annoying sometimes, because I’m always trying to teach her the right thing to do and always trying to, you know, when in reality, it was it was not effective. And it was kind of creating a lot of angst for everybody.

Josh 14:10
You think about God, like the way that God has chosen to parent us that certainly you can look at scripture and say, well, there’s a lot in there about like teaching us the right from wrong and what to do and what not to do. There are a lot of examples he gives us to the stories of other people. And yet the Bible is a book and you can choose to open it or not. I mean, like God could have chosen to just like, you know, let have a loudspeaker in the sky, and to be correcting us all the time telling us right from wrong all the time. And he hasn’t even much to our consternation sometimes, you know, like, why would you just tell everybody that, you know, the psalmist is kind of like God, what are you going to step in here, and he’s, he’s relatively, I don’t want to say hands off because that would make him sound impersonal. I like the kind of the deistic God who’s not intimately involved in our lives but but he is humbly willing to wait to be invited, you know, in Revelation, I stand at the door and I knock. And I’m going to come in when you when you open the door to me, I’ll come in and we’ll sup together, which does I think have more of a conversational feel to it, I think. And we’re talking especially I think when our kids are moving through adolescence and into adulthood here, there, we really do have to let them graduate to be their own person with their own opinion. And, for goodness sake, that’s what we want. Anyway, I don’t we don’t want our kids to just parent us, we really do want them to come to be themselves. So when we come back to the idea of idolatry, I think one of things that comes to mind for me is this. Like, I I’m not, I’ve never really idolized my kids. I think when I went when the truth of the matter is peeled back, what I’ve idolized is my idea of what I think my kids should be, or how I think their lives and their story. Should pan out. Yes. And so when they struggle more in this area, or that areas, and I wish like that, that, you know, knocks at the at the podium I have them are the what’s the word, the pedestal pedestal lanky that I have them on, that have that idol on or when they think something different than then, you know, hey, that’s, that’s not Orthodox Christianity, you’re sitting there, that knocks the pedestal, I mean, they’re all these these different signs along the way, that what I’m really idolizing is my idea of how this should go how their life should go. And if I dig a little further, I’d have to be honest to say, much of it is me trying to protect myself, it’s really me trying to get something from me that if their story doesn’t go the way that I think it should go, if they don’t, you know, quote, unquote, turnout, which is very limited, kind of, you know, perspective, the way that I think they should, then then it’s gonna be harder for me, it’s gonna hurt me,

Kit 16:46
well, I’m just thinking about that burden, just when you said that, you know, if they don’t turn out, you know, the way I want them to, then I like, just you saying that made me go all I recognize and feel the crush of that, that I carried for so long, you know. And that’s a burden that God doesn’t intend for us to carry. You know, I remember, I can’t remember exactly how, at what age my children were, but there was just this deep sense I had from the Lord one day, when I was caught up in all of this. And he was like, letting me know that he was writing a story for them that I would never write. Because I would take all the yuck out of it. Right. And he said, but I’m not gonna write that story. Because, you know, there are things that they will learn about me and about life and about themselves, that they’ll only learn through some suffering through some hard things. And if you try to rescue them from that, then they’ll just be these kind of superficial people you won’t want to hang out with. And that was a really significant moment for me, you know, to realize that, oh, gosh, you know, I really need to let them go. Just like I’ve learned so much through those trials, they will too, and I can be with them. And it just like God is with me in it. But I can’t prevent it or rescue it, and they shouldn’t.

Josh 18:01
So some of the things that come out. So we mentioned before, the like our, our temptation as parents to remove freedom and instead be in control. I think two other things that come up there one is suffering. We don’t want our kids to suffer. I’d add to that, or maybe the subcategory or correlation. That is we don’t want our kids to sin. And then, but I think when we try to extract freedom, suffering and sin from our kids story, not not that we should, you know, hey, whatever, you know, here, here’s, you know, raid the alcohol like, okay, I don’t know, saying that. But when we try to try to write all that out of their story, and kind of put up fences all around our kids in that way. I think ultimately, what we’re doing is we’re saying no redemption for you. Yeah, you know, no savior for you, you don’t need the cross, I’m going to, I’m going to remove your need for the cross, because I’m going to be such a great parent, which is anything but being a great parent, like we we want our kids to need Jesus to understand their need for the cross and to come to the cross as hungry as we are more.

Kit 19:04
I feel like that’s what another thing that the Lord said to me once was, you know, your, your children need a savior and you’re not him. I’m the one I’m the only one you know, that can redeem and save and you’ll interfere with what I’m doing if you get in between me and them. Oh,

Josh 19:23
okay. The reality The truth is, I think like, I think and I’m not trying to be hard on myself here, but I think that there are probably ways that that when we see Jesus face to face part of the story will be he’ll turn to my kids and with his great you know, compassion for me as well and say, you know, part of his you’re welcome to them will be You’re welcome for saving you from all the trouble your father, but you know, I won’t I don’t want to be a part of their redemptive story in that way. And so I want them to be free and and I can even talk a good game here. But man when it comes right down to it, oh my gosh, the emotional turmoil of even the conversation I mentioned earlier. Like I didn’t back Happily, I went to sleep and was in felt like I was schooled and just like, oh, Lord, help me walk through this. So let’s turn the corner a little bit, he had a couple minutes left, but to break free from this idolatry, what kinds of things combined for you, if you’re a parent, or you’re talking to another relationship, and you recognize some of these things? What are practical things parents might think to do just just a few takeaways?

Kit 20:24
Well, I think the first thing that I felt that it has helped me a lot is just, you know, this idea, this really powerful truth that no one and no thing is going to bring me this sense of well being than God. So my an antidote for me, to not look to my children, is to spend time with God and to let him love me and to receive it, you know, whatever way that looks like but just to really have an intentionality about that, like, you know, to to happen to nurture that reality that he’s the one who’s going to give me that. So if I, if I get that from God, then I am so much less likely to then act out with my kids and look, look to them to give it to me.

Josh 21:06
Yeah. And I think sometimes, some, I’d say speak for me, I think sometimes the difficulties in my kids where the pedestal is, Is Wobbly, and I find myself just emotionally in angst. Some, some of those times are the times where I’m, I’m just, it happens for real. It’s not just me saying Yes, God, you’re the most important thing while kind of, you know, secretly holding on to that idol, even secretly for myself, but where it requires me to open my hands. Another thing comes to mind for me is in relation to that talk to the Lord, like idolatry is a sin. I mean, it’s, it’s right up there. And so when we identify idolatry in our lives, to confess it outright as sin Lord, I have placed my children in a in the place that only you belong, and I’ve made them into an idol, or my idea of what’s going to make me happy and make me successful. I confess that as sin Lord, I asked you forgiveness, and I think, getting some accountability, and this is one of those places where, and we need to, like ratchet it up in the Christian community a little bit like, you know, all our Facebook posts about our kids doing great stuff, which, which seemed to stop for most parents and run out of lessons, not all. And I say that with, you know, great affection for my adolescent kids. But I think I think when we can, as a Christian community begin to, like, call each other out on that hold, hold that up for each other like, which brings me to the next one, which is, this has been a game changer for me. And my parenting is I think, there’s one thing I’ve began holding on to more that has made me a better parent, it is simply this truth that my my call as a parent is not to raise kids that look like X, Y, or Z. My call is a parent my primary call before the Lord and what He will judge me on what he will hold me to when I see him face to face is did you love these kids? Well, did you love them, like Jesus loves them. And what that’s done for me is shifted the paradigm from your story, you know, daughter, a daughter, B, daughter, C, you know, so, like your story is, is not in my is my control, what is in my control is what I love you in the story you’re living. So I don’t need to make your story. You know, I don’t need to write the chapters of your story, I can be involved in it. But my part is, Can I can I love you Well, in whatever the story of your life looks like, that frees me up a bit, you know, for, for, as a parent of kids from 15, down to five,

Kit 23:30
you know, during some desperate times of child raising, I ended up learning to literally fall on my knees out in the morning, getting right out of bed onto my knees and praying, Lord, help me to love them. Well, today. That was my prayer.

Josh 23:48
Would it be something if we if we lived in a Christian community, and if we had the solidity within ourselves, so remind each other of your, your sustenance, your worth, your value is already established, God loves you and nicely as a parent. And our questions were not How are your kids doing? With that kind of like, you know, how your chance to brag? Right? Yeah. Right. And, and, and asked instead, like, how are you doing loving your kids, you know, in the stories that are living? So when they’re doing well and we’re just beaming with pride How are you doing? loving them sacrificially as Jesus does in this season? So it’s not about you, you know, way to go it’s it’s How are you? How are you fanning the flame the good things God’s doing? And in seasons where they’re not doing so well? How are you doing loving them? Well, in this and in supporting each other and praying for each other in that way? in our churches,

Kit 24:40
it is so huge and I have some friends that were we’ve all of us in different ways have had kids, you know, just going through some hard things and to be able to not have those. How are you doing his expectation this competition but to really just be like, you know what, this is hard and this is there. There are ways that all of us need to be honest and be you know, we’re there for each other in those places. And, and, and really drop all that stuff. Yeah, all that pretense you know it’s very destructive really in our faith journey.

Josh 25:13
And it serves me to that I think it it those questions turn the turn the corner from this kind of static thinking which says are you a good parent or not? And changes it into? are you? How are you growing as a parent? You know, I mean, it’s it’s not absolutely

Kit 25:27
yes, yes. And that’s what we should be talking about because there’s so much of that growth needed and that we do honestly, you know, experience.

Josh 25:37
So God by your grace, would you? Would you teach us to be parents like you are a parent to us. And God, give us the world pray that old prayer, Lord, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom is parents to know the difference between the two. And Lord, may it be that by the time we are old and gray, we’d be pretty good parents. We pray these things Lord was hoping you and you alone, Amen. Thank you so much for listening today. We hope this episode has been helpful to you. Listen, if you find these podcasts beneficial, please join our listening community and our larger ministry work in one of two ways. First, would you leave us a five star review wherever you listen to podcasts. Doing so actually helps bring this content to more people like you who can benefit and second, would you become a financial partner of the ministry by donating either one time or on a monthly basis. You can find out how to do so at regeneration ministries dot o RG slash donate. Thank you so much again for listening. We look forward to being with you again next week.

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Original music by Shannon Smith. Audio engineering by Gabriel @ DelMar Sound Recording.

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