Who are Your Child’s Heroes?

Who are Your Child’s Heroes?

by Dr. Curt Brannan

Many of you no doubt saw the recent article in the News-Leader concerning studies done by the Associated Press and (of all people) MTV.  Children were asked to name their heroes and were allowed to choose as many heroes as they wanted, and evidently from any category they would like.  The paper notes that what is amazing about this survey is that, although many thought the youth would choose the people they most admire from the ranks of musicians or sports figures or historical figures, it turns out that almost half, by far the biggest group, chose their parents as the people they most admire (29% chose Dad, 21% Mom and 16% their parents without saying which one).

As I read this I found myself both thrilled and frightened.  How much better can it get than to have your child choose you to admire instead of the latest cool movie star or quarterback? Even the great comic superheroes of our time, Superman, Spider-Man and Batman, failed to come close.  But along with this sense of satisfaction there came some hesitation, realizing the significance of the survey for parents and parenting.

We all know parenting is the greatest, most impossible job in life. There is a joy as we bring children into the world that is impossible to explain.  It changes us!  And to watch them grow, become toddlers, go to school, become pre-teens, teens and finally move into adulthood, we go through times of anxiety, excitement, joy, pride, frustration and probably every other emotion known to the human race. Sometimes we wonder if we know what we are doing and sometimes we know we don’t know what we are doing, but we are responsible to continue giving them our love and care whatever the state of our emotions.

Knowing it is very likely our children are looking to us as their heroes – patterning their attitudes, expectations, responses to others, use of money, views regarding what is truly important and most important, how they understand God – should give each of us reason to pause and reflect on what we are modeling for them.

We are sometimes very concerned about others who influence our children – their friends, peers, other family members, the “Idols” they see on TV, in movies, and teachers. But our first and greatest concern should be for what they see in us.  How do we treat our spouse?  Many studies confirm that boys most often follow the pattern set by their dads in relating to their own wives. I’m sure, though I haven’t seen research that supports it, this is just as true for girls and moms.

Knowing we are their heroes should drive each of us to our knees and cause us to consistently review what it is that our children are seeing as they watch us live before them.  What do they learn from us about God, how to treat the server in the restaurant, or how to use our money and our other resources?  What do they understand about living with integrity, proper attitude toward authority, taking responsibility or making godly decisions?  No one can answer the question but you.

One thing I know. God commanded parents to “Train up a child in the way he should go . . .” But this involves more than reading them Bible stories when they are little or making them go to church when they are teens. We should do these things, but our responsibility before God is greater than this.  It means bringing them up with knowledge of how to relate to others, showing them what it means to love truth and be responsible.  It means showing them by our own lives that it is right before God to acknowledge authority and to act justly.  It involves a living example of loving God and loving others as ourselves. If they don’t see this, all our Bible stories,  good advice and wise words will fall on deaf ears unless they see it play out in the lives of their heroes. Let’s look deeply into our lives, questioning first not their actions, but ours. Only then can we claim the promise, “ . . . even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6).