Friday, September 06, 2019

Your Children and Their Choices Don't Define You.

A Little Disclaimer: I've had a draft of this article/encouragement sitting in my queue to finish 
for months and I thought now is a good time to finally finish it with the season I'm currently in. :-)

As my wife and I move into the next phase of life with all of our 5 children being young adults now, I've been reflecting on all the child raising years. 

I've noted my own strengths, weaknesses, successes, and mistakes and yet despite all my short comings and even the good things I've done, I see that my adult children are making good decisions. They are owning their faith and relationship with The Lord and working toward their adult goals. I have no doubt that they will do well with God has their guide and I will continue to pray for them and be a line of counsel as they make their way. 

My aim in this article is to briefly touch on several parent related topics with hopes that you may find encouragement no matter the season you're in and no matter the actions your children choose. May you have a glimpse of God's grace and a renewed hope in The Lord as you continue your journey. 
Identity Crisis and Your Children's Choices

If you're currently a parent of children in the pre-adult years, or have children in the adult years, have you attempted to or found yourself trying to find your value, worth, and identity in your children? 

So often I see parents whose lives seem to be completely wrapped up in their children's lives. So much so that they feel their identity and self worth is synonymous with what their kids do. Whether it's their sports or other activities, everything seems to be about their kids and in the process they neglect themselves and if married, sometimes they neglect their marriage. 

I understand this in part because family life and parenting is very busy and full of activity. It can be easy to lose connection and focus, however, even though our aim as parents is to set our kids up for success and launch them into adulthood, life is about everything not just our kids. 

We have to keep this in perspective because eventually, guess what?...they will inevitably grow up and move into adulthood. 

We have the privilege to actively build into the lives of our kids for a season on into adulthood. Then as they enter adulthood our role shifts from parenting to a line of counsel of which I'm still personally working to shift into that mode myself. 

Let me ask you: If your identity if fully wrapped around your kids, what happens when your children leave / are launched into adulthood? Do you lose your identity? Absolutely not! 

Your identity is not found in your kids, your parenting, the activities you do, or anything on this earth. Your identity is found in Jesus alone. 
If you try to find your value and worth in anyone or anything else other than Jesus, you will be disappointed every time! 

The problem is that some parents forget this. They instead allow their identity and potential to become again, seemingly synonymous with their children's activities, actions, and behavior. 
As a side note: Some parents judge other parents who don't have their kid's doing everything they do but it's a family matter for each family to decide. Please remember, your activity choices, school choices, curriculum choices or any other parenting choices also don't make you anymore superior than other parents either. I share this because as parents, we should support our friends who are also parents and not judge them which unfortunately I see happen time and time again. 
Please hear me again, especially if you're still in the parenting years, your identity ultimately isn't in anything on earth but your identity is or should be found in Christ. 

While it's a parents responsibility to train a child up to the best of their ability training them  in the way they should go, (Proverbs 22:6) it's not any parents responsibly to completely own the outcome which includes your children's choices. 

Even in the best of environments a child can choose to do what is wrong and what is the opposite of how we trained them up. 

Is their behavior and choices embarrassing sometimes? Yes! Is it disappointing? Yes? Does it make you feel sometimes like you made mistakes? Yes! Will they choose to be rebellious sometimes? Yes! Ultimately do you own their choices? No!  Love them anyway and pray for them and yourself throughout each season. 

We have to do our best to train them and then trust God for the outcome and continue to pray for our children. We need to continue to be an open line of counsel for our adult children as well.

If you've made mistakes give yourself grace and if you're still in the parenting years, you can still make adjustments...just make sure to make the adjustments now while there is time. Believe me, I made many mistakes, failed to make adjustments in certain areas and somehow my kids turned out to be responsible adults anyway (thanks to God!) and I'm still learning and shifting into the line of counsel mode from the parenting mode. 

Let me encourage you to do your best then launch them into adulthood and they have to own their faith, their actions, their choices and unfortunately sometimes they choose not to. 

Same is true whether they are still a child or an adult as some choose reject the godly counsel of their parents and you have to remember that is completely on them and they have to own their own faith, choices, and consequences. 

Will your kids make dumb choices sometimes? Yes! Will they completely reject the values and wisdom of how they were raised sometimes? Yes! Will they sometimes choose to reject God's truth that was instilled in them? Yes! Do you own any part of this? Unless you were a complete deadbeat or absent parent, absolutely Not!  Ultimately the choices are still up to them.

Are their choices and behavior heart breaking sometimes? Yes, but God's grace is greater! You need to trust Him to heal and protect your heart and mind. 

No matter what other's think or say, our you may think, your kid's choices are not a reflection on you no matter how you may feel during a given season! 

Continue to pray for your children, keep communication open as much as possible, be there when they fall on their face (they will), and trust that God will convict them and steer them back on the right path. 

Remember, you have the responsibility to actively parent them, set them up for success giving the best training and example you can, and then you have to trust God, again, for the outcome. 

Shifting Standards: 
Within the realm of your kids choices, it needs to be said especially in this day and age, that if your child decides to go way out of bounds and do and live out things that are contrary to God's Word, that choice is their's! Now, should you stop loving them? NO! 

Remember this: You've poured yourself into them. You've spent many sleepless nights worrying (not that we should worry) and praying for them. You've spent countless hours preparing and providing for them. You've spent hours trying to train them up and correct them as needed. Despite all your best efforts and they chose the wrong path. 

Their choices shouldn't be an excuse for you to choose to compromise the truth and standards of God's Word nor should you expect everyone else in your life to do the same. 
God's truth and standards don't change but it is you and I that choose to change which can be a deadly path and it is definitely wrong to forsake Him. 

You shouldn't change your view of God and His Word because of their choices. You shouldn't just throw away all the truth you've known and lived out just because your child goes off the proverbial rails in rejecting God's standard and your wise counsel. I know the path they've chosen can be painful and confusing and may make you question a multitude of things but you stay the course! Cling to God through it all! 

You can and should love your child and in the process, you should not compromise or condone their life choices. Depending on the choices made, remember it will likely change the dynamics in the relationships with the family and friends closest to you specifically with regard to the people you know and who have been around your child for all those years. 

You need to realize that this doesn't mean everyone should or will support and encourage that child in their choices, especially if it's sinful. I share this as I've seen this multiple times and it's wrong in all aspects for the parent or the child to expect everyone around them to change overnight when such a drastic path has been taken. The hope is that your friends and family will support and love you through it. Just give it time. 

Please understand, if you're a born again follower of Christ, if you choose to change your view on many things related to God's Word in ways that don't align to His ultimate truth, that's wrong and it's a decision you need to repent of before you drift further way from His standards and thereby suffer the consequences of your choices. 

Don't Lose Hope: 
I share all of this to give you food for thought and to encourage you to not lose hope. Don't give up, don't give in, keep fighting the good fight and keep your hope in The Lord always! 

If you've gotten off track with wrapping your identity around your kids, I pray that you stop, reevaluate, and shift your focus back on The Lord. 

Furthermore, if you've taken your child's choices personally as if they are your's to own, let me encourage you to take a step back, seek God's Word, seek God through prayer, and no matter how hard it is...give yourself some grace my friend knowing you aren't your children or their choices. No, you are a child of the most high God and you've done your best. 

Friend, you need to stop second guessing yourself. You need to know with confidence that you've tried your very best to train them up in the way they should go and it's now time for you to trust in The Lord knowing He ultimately owns the final results and prayerfully, if your child is off track, they will listen to His voice once again. Pray for them that instead of rejecting Him, they will reject the wrong decisions they've chosen and wrong path they've been on in the name of Jesus. 

You Brother and Servant In Christ,

Randolph Koch

P.S. REMEMBER: Your children and their choices don't define you!


  1. POWERFUL! You know this hits close to home for me. My entire self-esteem is wrapped up in how my kids turn out and this was a nice reminder that my identity is foremost God's child. That's where my identity is! Thank you so much for writing! This one is especially close to my heart.

    1. Hello and Thank you for sharing. I'm glad you found hopefully some encouragement from it. I understand and it's so easy to allow yourself to go down that path but Jesus, Jesus working in and through you is enough and the sources of your identity my friend.