You’ve seen the posts and memes:
“My child is the most important thing in the universe to me.”
“There’s nothing more important than my children.”
“My children are my life.”
Those are all phrases spouted with the best intentions, the utmost love, and typically a naive sense of how a healthy home functions.
I beg you to at least hear me out, and then save all your angry words for the comments section below the post.
What is a Child-Centered Home?
In a child-centered home, the entire household revolves around the kid(s). Everything you do, eat, play, attend, plan for, and prepare for… revolves around the children.
But you love your children with every ounce of your soul, so what’s so bad about this? Well, I’ll tell you, because I’ve witnessed it and I continue to witness it, and I know what it does.
You may not completely realize that your kids are your entire life. At least, not yet. Because one day, they are going to move out. Then what? Well, then you’ll realize that you weren’t their entire life. And that can be a dangerous spot to be in. A spot that could lead to depression and a lack of fulfillment in anything else you do.
Why is a Child-Centered Home Dangerous?
I’m glad you asked. I’m also glad you’re still reading, regardless of whether you’re intrigued or fuming.
Before we go on, here are six reasons why a child-centered home is bad for you and your kids:
- It’s not a child-centered world. In fact, the world isn’t centered on any single person. Of course, if the world was centered on Jesus, we wouldn’t have many of the issues we have, but we all know that most of the world isn’t centered on Jesus, and it’s definitely not centered on your child.
- Your children will grow up thinking it’s all about them. When they learn it’s not all about them, they could become depressed, or at minimum, confused. They grew up their whole life as the center of your world, and now they’re out in the world, and they may not be the center of anything.
- Kids are automatically selfish; don’t make it worse. We spend so many of our younger years teaching our kids not to be selfish. Humans are selfish by default, so selflessness is something that must be learned. It’s not easy to embrace selflessness, but once your kids do embrace it, they’ll be amazed at how much happier they are.
- It puts your kids in charge. Whether you realize it or not, in a child-centered home, your kids are in charge. The problem is, they aren’t ready for that kind of responsibility yet. They shouldn’t have to absorb the responsibility of always getting their way. It’s only going to hurt them. It’s easier to let them get their way, and it’s tough to say “no” and let them learn difficult lessons by messing up without our help, but it will make their adult life so much easier.
- You don’t take care of yourself. When you think life is all about your kids, you make sacrifices. Those sacrifices are great when they’re healthy, and acceptable. It’s when you constantly sacrifice all the time for your kids, and end up abusing yourself, because you’ve kept the “it’s all about them” mindset for so long. If you don’t take care of you, you can’t take care of anyone.
- It’s a burden on your marriage. This is the biggest point here. When you put anything before God, and anything other than God ahead of your spouse, you’re taking things out of God’s designed order. What happens when your kids move out, and you’re empty-nesters? You may realize you barely know each other anymore if you’ve put your kids first for 20+ years.
So if you agree a child-centered home isn’t the best option, and that you can love your kids with all your heart without having a child-centered home, let’s look at how to avoid a home engulfed in your kids’ wants and needs…
How to Avoid a Child-Centered Home
So what’s better than a child-centered home? What do you turn to instead? A God-centered home. Center yourself and your family on Jesus, and everything starts making more sense. I’m not saying it’s easier, but it’s better.
You’re going to be with your kids for around 20 years, and then they’ll be living on their own. You’ll be with your spouse for the rest of your life, but you’ll be with Jesus for the rest of eternity. So it makes sense, logically, to put Jesus first, and then your spouse, and then your kids.
I’m not going into the ethical dilemma of “what if there’s a fire, and your wife and kids are in the house, and you can only save one…” No, that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the basic order of life. This is not an article about ethics, it’s an article about everyday living.
When you focus on Jesus, and keep a strong marriage, you’re going to love your kids, and they’re going to know it. The best thing you can do for your kids is to have a strong, Godly marriage, and model a Godly life for them.
Love your children, but don’t idolize your children. Be careful with phrases like “my kids are more important than anything else.” Healthier phrases are “I love my kids with all my heart” or “I’m raising Godly kids who love the Lord.”
What About Single-Parent Homes?
I didn’t forget about all the single mothers and fathers out there. The ones who are sacrificing a lot to provide a great life for their kids. You guys are doing great. I’m not saying you should love your kids any less, and it’s probably not possible for you to love them any more.
But even in single-parent homes, if your kids are the center of your world, and the most important thing to you, you’re doing a disservice to them. I don’t want to get into a semantics debate about what you should and shouldn’t say, but be careful not to fall into any of the pitfalls mentioned above.
It’s only going to hurt your kids for them to be the center of your world. I know it’s a lot harder for single parents. And then you may have to split your time with your ex. That’s tough. You want to give your kids everything when they’re with you, and that often leads to a lack of discipline, because you don’t want any of the negative when you have the time with your kids.
I’m telling you… your kids may like that when they’re young, but they’ll appreciate the discipline when they’re older. I’m not saying to break out the belt, I’m simply saying to hold your kids accountable. They can’t get away with doing the wrong things just because you’re a single parent and you feel bad disciplining them. Too often, society lets things go because of the situation someone is in, and that only hurts that person more.
Being a single parent is hard, but it’s where you’re at. And you have to face it. The good news is that single parents don’t have to face it alone. When you seek Jesus and get involved in a good church/community, you’ll get support. That support helps. Reach out when you need help, and find a good community of Christians.
The Beauty of a God-Centered Home
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”Matthew 6:33
When Jesus is giving his famous “Sermon on the Mount,” he talks about not being anxious or worrisome. A child-centered home leads to both of those things. Center your home on God, and watch how the other things fall in place.
It’s not a magic bullet, and it doesn’t mean life will be easy. Life is not easy. That’s part of why we don’t want a child-centered home, because kids grow up thinking life is easy.
A God-centered home doesn’t always make life easier, but it gives you the strength to handle whatever is thrown your way.
Let’s look at a little more context to the verse at the beginning of this section. When Jesus was teaching, he said…
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.Matthew 6:25-33
All of the build-up in Jesus’ sermon leads to seeking the Kingdom of God so that “all these things will be added.” Jesus teaches that we should be content, and I assume that means we should raise our children to be content. Gratitude and contentment are two of the keys to a fulfilled life.
It won’t always be a happy life, but who ever said we should strive to merely lead a happy life? We can all attest that we’ve grown more in some of the unhappiest times of life than in the happy times. People don’t grow much at all in happy times. It’s great to be happy, and it’s part of life, but grief and sorrow are also part of life.
Life is full of seasons. When we have a God-centered home, we have the strength to get through the gloomy seasons, and the gratitude to appreciate the beautiful seasons. When we center our home on God, the love showers down over our marriage and our relationship with our kids.
God is the only one worthy enough to center our home on. The beauty is, when we do that, we become centered on what truly matters, and our life becomes full of joy… not mere happiness, which comes and goes, but lasting joy, through all seasons.
Further Bible Study
Further Book Reading
- Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch
- How to Raise Selfless Kids in a Self-Centered World by Dave Stone
Over to You!
- Do you think a child-centered home is dangerous?
- What is your home centered on?