Why Engage in Your Kids’ Interests?
As hard as it may be for us to dive in to something “trivial” or “uninteresting” our kids might be into, Judah shows us how impactful it can actually be.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4
Some of the best rivalries continue throughout generations… Longhorns and Aggies, cats and dogs, Alphas and Omegas, and of course, teenagers and parents. This primal butting of heads has always been and seems it will always be in existence. I too have experienced this rivalry firsthand.
Whether it was long hair, skateboards or rock bands, my interests did not lie exactly where my parents preferred. The tension peaked when listening to rock music turned into playing in a rock band. The arguments (I mean discussions…) have faded from memory, but I will never forget the night my dad chose to support my musical interests despite his confusion over the choice to swing my hair around while yelling into a microphone.
Many parents were in attendance the night of our biggest show, but only my dad parked an RV full of drinks and snacks backstage. An actual “tour bus” for high school headbangers. How cool were we! He may not have been able to communicate through cringing teeth as he listened from the crowd, but his actions said, “I love you”.
While I won’t advocate for supporting every interest your children might pursue, I will encourage you to hear this example as evidence that your support will likely have a deeper impact than you realize.
As you discern when to support and when to steer in another direction, here are a few evaluative questions:
- Does the interest glorify God? Scripture clearly tells us “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). In my example above, playing in a rock band could go either way on this question. Once my parents heard the content of our song lyrics and our motivation for performing, they were able to overlook differing interests and choose to support. It may be helpful to ask our children, WHY do you want to do this? Know this, rock music and skateboards can glorify God just as well as pianos and football. Help them use their interest for eternal purpose.
- Is the content praiseworthy? This one may be a little obvious when evaluating. Philippians 4:8 gives a pretty good list of excellent things to focus on. The focus should be on godly things, anything otherwise just isn’t worthwhile. If our children’s interests include sinful content, help them understand why it is wrong (according to scripture, not opinion) and steer them toward better pursuits.
- Am I motivated by pride, or fulfilling my God-given role as a parent? We are called to “look not only to [our] own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). While our children’s interests may not align with those we believe best, we may find more opportunity to impact through the humility of self-denial. This is exactly what my dad modeled for me. He did his due diligence to ensure no biblical “crimes” were being committed, then set aside his disagreement for the sake of loving his child. I will always remember this display of humility.
Again, I’m not saying all childhood/teen interests should be supported. My hope is to stir thoughts toward intentional ways to model truth to your children, all the while showing them a love that considers others more significant than self.
What are some things you most enjoy (entertainment, activity, hobbies)? Why do you like those? How do you think you could use that to bring glory to God?