Love your children more by loving them less

Can you love your children too much? We hear people saying things like “my children are my world” and “my kids are my everything” a lot – what should we make of this? The big idea of this blog post is this: you can love your children too much. Yes, that’s right. If you’re intrigued, then read on.

Before we get too controversial, let us reel it in a bit. It is our privilege and joy to love our children. God gives us our children into our care to love and care for them. When we love our children we image our God – he is the ultimate parent who perfectly loves humanity, his children. We are to model our love for our children on our perfect God.

So that’s pretty high stakes for the love we should have for our children.

If that sets the bar of how much we should love our children, how could we possibly love our children too much?

In order to see this, we need to ask a question:

What is the ultimate good that I want for my child?

We need to come to a settled conviction of what is the most important thing for our children’s lives  – the thing that we consider our highest priority for them.

Let us suggest something. Our children are created by a God who loves them and wants to know them. The greatest gift that God has given to our children is himself – knowing him is the most fulfilling, joy-giving, satisfying reality that our children could experience. The best thing we can do for our children is introduce them to the gospel, and help them (with the Spirit’s work) to fall in love with Jesus.

People often speak of wanting, above all else, for their children to be happy. We think that’s not a great enough ambition. We want our children to be joyful. We want them to have a deep-seated, unshakeable and secure joy – the kind of joy that can only be found in Jesus. The kind of joy that can only be found when Jesus is at the centre of our children’s lives. The kind of joy that only comes when our children find their security, identity and sense of purpose first and foremost in Jesus.

But here’s the thing. If we communicate to our children that we love them more than anything else, we end up robbing them of the best thing we can give them. We want our children to see that there is someone who we love even more than them, and who they should too. We want to communicate through how we speak and live that Jesus is wonderful, and that he’s at the centre of everything. We want to speak about him passionately, warmly, winsomely and regularly! We want them to see, through our words and example, that Jesus is our deepest source of joy.

When we do this, when we love Jesus more than our children, we love our children better.

You see when Jesus isn’t our highest love, something else is, and that’s a problem. It’s a problem because we look to our highest love to provide for us in various ways. We look to it for our ultimate sense of worth, acceptance and joy. But many of these things that we make ultimate can’t live up to what we ask of them. They can’t provide the joy what we want them to. They’re finite and fallen and will disappoint us. Jesus is the only one who won’t.

If something other than Jesus is our highest love, we end up putting too much pressure on it to provide what it can’t. If that’s our children, that’s not loving to our children. But if Jesus is our highest love and we look to him for our joy, security, identity etc, then we don’t put the pressure on our children to provide those things. We love our children more by loving them less. Or, to be more accurate, we love our children more (and better) by loving Jesus even more than we love them.

So there we have it. Are you convinced? Let us know in the comments below. And if you found this post helpful or thought-provoking, please help it to reach more people by sharing it on social media.

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