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Are We Using Our Kids to Fulfill Idolatrous Dreams?

Are We Using Our Kids to Fulfill Idolatrous Dreams?

It may seem odd that a family would make a list of idols in America. But, family can be a considerable impediment to discovering and fulfilling your God-given life purpose.

I certainly am not adding my voice to the vast numbers who advocate for the dismantling and destruction of the traditional family. Far too many misguided individuals as well as groups have already jumped on that band wagon, with predictable and devastating consequences, I might add.

Statisticians and scientists are quite fond of repeating the axiom that correlation is not causation. While it is certainly true that the problems America faces have many causes, I have no doubt that one of the most primary reasons for societal ruination is the disintegration of the nuclear family.

What I am proposing is that there are conditions that are peculiar to some families that inhibit or prevent members of those families from following the will of God for their lives. When that happens, the family becomes an idol.

I believe one of the greatest sins ever indulged in by parents is to be attempting to live their lives vicariously through their children. We’ve all felt the embarrassment of watching a Little League father (who was never much of an athlete) attempt to force his son to be the next Babe Ruth.

It is the deadly idolatry of pressuring your children to conform to your expectations rather than the leading of God and their own desires. In some families, it is an unspoken assumption that the children will follow their parents into the family business, profession, or occupation which may involve a highly skilled profession such as law, medicine, or even ministry. It may be an expectation that the children will continue the family business, even if they have no interest or inclination to pursue it. It may be a family tradition that everyone in the family works in the same industry, for the same company, or in the same occupation. I have known generations of people who worked at the same factory, facility, or location.

The thought of a family member working somewhere else or doing something else was regarded as akin to betrayal.

What to do with one’s life is a vastly important decision, one that most teenagers are probably not prepared to make. One question adults are fond of asking children is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Most young people don’t yet possess the answer to that question. They may have a hero or someone they admire, but that doesn’t mean they want to follow them in lock step. Perhaps you or someone you’ve known may have seemed to realize from the time they were very young God’s direction and their heart’s desire for their life what they wanted to do with their life, but that is certainly the exception rather than the rule.

This issue can be the most troubling just as adolescents reach a crisis point in their lives. When they are ready to graduate from high school, if they are considering college, they are asked to choose a field of study. The problem is that they don’t know what they want to do, and they risk making a choice that they may not want to follow as they gain additional life experience. When this is combined with pressure from parents or other family members to enter a particular career, it can cause no end of problems. How would anyone feel if they were guaranteed college tuition to study to become a teacher, but were cut off if they pursued any other degree program? Or suppose they deeply desired to study music, or medicine, or mathematics?

Children have to fulfill their own God-given dreams. They should never feel manipulated into becoming surrogates for the unfulfilled dreams that their parents have for them. In extreme cases, the children may feel as though they are trying to fulfill dreams that their parents have for themselves!

Often I share with parents that what your children see you making a priority, so will they. May we never worship at the idols of temporal pleasure and pursuit and neglect the weightier matters of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

You may feel that your child is an exception to this principle, and is strong enough to resist the pressure to conform that occurs so powerfully in adolescence. I encourage you to make decisions regarding the children given to you by the living God which will guide, and encourage them to make decisions themselves, that will always keep God in first place at all times. Anything else, no matter how attractive it may seem, is an idol.

To read more from Rod Parsley's 'Idolatry in America', visit

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