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Proud of our kids?

Is it appropriate to be proud of your kids' achievements?

My daughter is great at drawing. She loves it and draws all the time – horses, dragons and superheroes. She was showing her sketch book to my friend, who turned to me and said, ‘Wow, she’s talented. You must be so proud of her!’

Proud.

Is that the right word? Should I be proud?

Recently I met a guy who told me that he couldn’t stand Facebook – he found it so depressing. Every post he saw was by friends boasting about their children, talking about their achievements and saying how proud they were of their kids. He found it so isolating that he left Facebook.

His daughter has autism and ADHD. She struggles socially, emotionally and academically – he feels like there’s no area where she doesn’t have problems. Helping his daughter with basic things is difficult, and then all he gets from his ‘friends’ is how wonderful their own children are. They seem so proud of themselves, to have produced such perfect kids.

I thought he may have been oversensitive, due to his circumstances, but he had a point. He got me thinking about whether we should be proud of our kids.

Important questions

If our kids are going well, how can we talk about it in a way which is helpful to others?

Do we even have the right to be proud of them? Should we boast about their achievements? And then, if they fail at something, would we then be ashamed?

Or should we only be proud of their good character traits? And if so, would we then look down on people whose children don’t have such admirable qualities?

I think my own daughter is wonderful. I could tell you that she is loyal, incredibly generous and goes out of her way to help others. She loves God, is passionate about the truth and seeks to tell people about Jesus. But she has autism too, (mild autism) so when she was young her behaviour was embarrassing. I’ve gotten over being embarrassed, and I’ve been happy when I’ve seen progress in her social skills, but there really hasn’t been room for pride. She also has severe dyslexia, so she is about 6 years behind academically – nothing much to boast about there.

When my sons learnt to read easily I was so happy. And relieved. One son even excels academically. I couldn’t boast about that – I know I don’t get any credit. It’s a gift from God. I’m actually very thankful to God that the other son is average, because he will be capable of getting a job when he grows up, which is such a blessing.

What does the Bible say?

Proverbs 16:18 - Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Proverbs 11:2 - When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

2 Timothy 3:1-2 - But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy.

When we feel proud of our children, is that the type of pride which comes before a fall? If we hope people will be impressed when we talk about our kids, then, yes. But we are closely connected to our children, so when our children do well, we are honoured. We, in turn, should honour God.

Paul was proud of ‘his’ churches the way parents might be proud of their children. In 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 he said that he boasted about the Thessalonian church, but it’s clear that he was boasting about what God has done in them and he thanked God for them.

1 Corinthians 1:31 and 2 Corinthians 2:17 - Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Jeremiah 9:23-24 -  This is what the Lord says:

“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
    or the strong boast of their strength
    or the rich boast of their riches,
but let the one who boasts boast about this:
    that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
    justice and righteousness on earth,
    for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord.

Gifts from God

God has given us children and it is our responsibility to care for them. They are his gift to us. We thank him for them and strive to be faithful in caring for them. If we make wise decisions on their behalf and work hard at bringing them up well, we have been faithful in the responsibilities God has given us. We don’t have the right to congratulate ourselves. We can only thank God for our children, for the abilities he has given them and how his spirit is working in them. We can enjoy our kids and thank God for the privilege of being their parents.

How can we be humble about our children? How can we ‘boast in the Lord’?

  • Be thankful for our children, rather than proud of them.
  • Think about how our words will benefit those we are speaking to. We can be encouraging to those whose children are struggling with disabilities, behaviour problems or in their relationships with God.
  • Rejoice with our children when they rejoice, commiserate with their disappointments.
  • Enjoy our children. We find great joy in seeing their development, but this doesn’t need to be pride.
  • Encourage our children rather than boasting about them. Tell them what we admire about them.
  • Rather than telling our children to be proud of themselves, teach them to thank God for the grace he has shown them through Jesus, for the way he is working in their lives and the abilities he has given them for serving him.
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