Trophy Kids

Mar 2014    

Rooting our children in Christ, growing them in the faith and giving them wings to go where God wills – these must form our primary education to our children.

We run a real risk of inadvertently breeding a generation of “trophy kids”. These are children who see themselves as so special that they have come to expect privileges as entitlements.

And we have parents who, consciously or unconsciously, mark their own successes by their children’s. The “success net” is now cast beyond conventional academic and sporting successes to good character and even godly behaviour. Jesus warned his disciples, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Lk. 12:34) Our children have become our treasure.

Three familiar discipleship metaphors help anchor biblical parenting.

The Altar. My husband, a first-time parent at 49 years old, swelled with pride as he showed off our firstborn, Josh, to an almost endless stream of visitors. Despite that, or precisely because of that, our first act upon arriving home from the hospital was to kneel at the foot of our bed as he cupped our week-old infant with both hands and lifted him heavenward and prayed.

A symbolic act of sacrifice and surrender: To give up in order to give in to God’s plans for Josh. To surrender is not to lose. It is to divinely exchange what is ours (imperfect) for God’s (perfect). To surrender is to experience freedom; from the anxiety and uncertainty of our children’s destiny and future because they are firmly placed in God’s hands.

Offering your child to God is also a way of offering yourself to God. Abraham’s ready sacrifice of Isaac, his firstborn, revealed his love for God and loyalty to Him. And Isaac learnt early in life that “the world does not revolve around you”. So while Isaac was born to Abraham, he belonged first, and ultimately, to God — a faithful provider of present needs and promisor of future blessings. (Gen. 22:13-18)

The Cross. God and His Son, the incarnate Jesus, endured the pain of separation on the cross. “Forsaken” was how Jesus described it. But, afterwards, upon Jesus’ exclamation that his life’s work was “finished”, God felt a father’s pride. His Son had accomplished his destiny. And salvation was made available to all humankind. God’s validation was Jesus’ measure of success, even though the world deemed him a failure.

As parents, we experience pain over our children — when they go wayward, when they fail spectacularly, or unthinkably, when our child’s life is unexpectedly cut short. These are times when we’d rather hide or hide away our erstwhile “trophy” kids.

But divinely-ordained pain is to be embraced, not escaped from. And when we reject secular notions of success and see painful “failures” as divinely-constructed paths, we surrender our children to the fulfilment of God’s purposes which brings about godly pride.

The Ends of the World. Parents ferry children to and from enrichment classes which supposedly give them an edge in snagging coveted places in elite schools. They are excused from household chores so more time can be devoted to studies or purposeful pursuits. They are given gadgets and gizmos and holistically schooled so they can be “future-ready”. No wonder our children feel overly prized.

The Rev Edmund Chan summarises the Great Commission — Jesus’ last words to his disciples — as consisting of source, strategy and scope (Matt. 28:18-20). A man’s last words are often the first things on his heart; help your children know their source, Christ, and His authority that is given to them. Teach them to want, will and do God’s way, not yours. And let them go even “to the ends of the world”.

Rooting our children in Christ, growing them in the faith and giving them wings to go where God wills – these must form our primary education to our children.

I once asked a tween what he thought was the “prize” we run towards that is written of in Philippians 3:14. “Jesus!” he responded wisely. Enthrone Christ, not child, in families. The altar, the cross and the ends of the world. They remind us to establish Christo-centric families.


Picture by Creativa/

Lorinne Kon worships at Paya Lebar Methodist Church and, with her husband, leads a cell group. She has three young school-going children whom she devotes half her waking hours to. An ex-banker, she serves on several boards including Prison Fellowship Singapore and is passionate about advocating for, rehabilitating and restoring the marginalised in society.


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