In 1970, the film Love Story produced the popular statement “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”  I completely disagree with that sentiment, but that is a topic for another article.  However, in a similar vein I have discovered a personal summary of parenting.  “Fatherhood means enjoying your children’s success more than your own.”

I recently noticed this during a football game when I heard the voice from the booth announce, “Tackle made by #56 Justin Trill.”  I realized that the feeling I experienced was stronger and more gratifying than if I had heard my own name announced.  I have recognized this through the years as I watched my daughter congratulated for serves that stymied the opposing team or a big basket that turned the tide of a game.  I have felt that emotion when Aaron held up his blue ribbon at a regional art competition or his first-place medal from youth league basketball.  The same thing applies to their academic achievements. Thankfully, I also realize that I receive even greater joy from seeing my son stand in front of a congregation to present a song or testimony than in his opening up a hole in the defensive line for a running back.  The same is true for each of my children.

Therein lay the challenges for me.  First, my job as a parent is not to live vicariously through my children.  I have to remember that although their accomplishments may cast a reflection my way, they are still theirs. Second, and more importantly, I have to remember the relative value of their life’s work and consistently reinforce what is truly important.  (That’s tough for a guy that cheers as heartily as I do at their games.)  However, if I don’t do this well, they will be prone to fall into the same trap that many of us do; placing more value on popularity than on purity, more weight on success than on service, more focus on money than on ministry.  We should rejoice in every talent, ability, and gift that God gives to us.  However, we must recognize that real success in life is using them for Him.  Only then do they have genuine significance and eternal value.

Sure, I’m proud of my kids for their academic and athletic endeavors.  But, I’m even more grateful for spiritual successes.

By the way, a high school friend pointed me to this great article by Scott Linscott that reminds parents of the proper perspective we must maintain to encourage enduring faith  in our young people.