Years ago, I watched a documentary about sibling rivalries in which it explored how many siblings become the “black sheep” of a family simply because they couldn’t measure up to the way another sibling looked or behaved. So they subconsciously charted a course that was the opposite. In many cases, that kind of comparison can be devastating.
Comparing kids to an ideal can happen unintentionally because your body language, interest, approval and attitude may be communicating to one child, “you’re getting it right” and to another “you’re not.”
Also, remember that forcing kids into a mold may seem to be working when they are young, but later it could backfire in a devastating ways.
I’m glad I get the privilege of hanging out with a lot of college students and young adults. They have taught me that “turning out” can look very different for different people.
The way they connect to God is different.
The way they relate to others is different.
The way they express their passion in life is different.
Let me make this more specific.
If I introduced you to some of the best Christian young college and adult leaders. . .
Some are thinkers, some are doers.
Some are theologians, some are activists.
Some like preppy clothes, some look bohemian.
Some are clean cut, some wear tattoos.
Some are Baptists, some are Episcoples, some are non-denominational.
Some are democrat, some are republican.
Some are disciplined, some are impulsive.
Some are structured, some are unstructured
Some are teachers, some are artists
Some have private daily devotionals, some worship randomly and freely.
Some like a big church, some like a small church, some don’t really like their church.
Some prefer a small community of faith with a few people they trust.
Some lean toward traditional style of worship, some lean toward a contemporary style.
Some are conservative, some are progressive.
Some drink, some don’t.
Some share their faith boldly, some share their faith quietly.
So which ones turned out right? Oh, I’m sure you can cherry pick the list and show me which characteristics you prefer. But then again that could be evidence that you are holding on a little to tightly to your picture of how you want your kids to turn out.
My experience has been that there are a lot of great young Christian leaders who took very different paths. That helps me remember as a parent, during moments when one of my children went a different direction than what I had wanted, expected, or anticipated, that being a parent isn’t about my kids turning out according to my picture. It’s about something much bigger.