Parents as Idol Worshippers

This is a post from 2012 that I thought was worth reposting.

Paul Tripp in his excellent book  Age of Opportunity lists several idols that parents have.  He notes that these idols often keep them from effectively parenting their teens. Here is the list of idols with a brief explanation from Mr. Tripp.

Idol 1: Comfort
“Secretly in our hearts, many of us want life to be a resort. A resort is a place where you are the one who is served…I am afraid that many of us live for comfort and bring this entitlement mentality to our parenting…Scripture warns us that life is far from being a resort. Life is war.”

Idol 2: Respect
“Is respect a good thing? Of course! Is it something that parents should seek to instill in their children? Yes! But it must not be the thing that controls my heart or I will personalize what is not personal, I will lose sight of my role as God’s representative, and I will fight and demand what only God can produce.”

Idol 3: Appreciation
“Children should appreciate their parents. Yet being appreciated cannot be our goal.  When it becomes the thing we live for, we will unwittingly look with hyper-vigilant eyes for appreciation in every situation…If parents have forgotten their own vertical relationship with God as they’ve ministered to their teens, if they think of it all as an ‘I serve, you appreciate’ contract between parent and child, they will struggle with lots of discouragement and anger during the teen years.”

Idol 4: Success
“We tend to approach parenting with a sense of ownership, that these are our children and their obedience is our right…We begin to need them to be what they should be so that we can feel a sense of achievement and success.  We begin to look at our children as our trophies rather than God’s creatures…When they fail to live to our expectations, we find ourselves not grieving for them and fighting with them, but angry at them, fighting against them, and, in fact, grieving for ourselves and our loss.”

Idol 5: Control
“The goal of parenting is not to retain tight-fisted control over our children in an attempt to guarantee their safety and our sanity. Only God is able to exercise that kind of control.  The goal is to be used of him to instill in our children an ever-maturing self-control through the principles of the Word and to allow them to exercise ever-widening circles of choice, control, and independence.”