Families Online Magazine

home > christian-parenting > living-through-kid

From the Christian Parenting Corner

The Bitter Cost of Living Vicariously Through Your Children

Christian Family
Christian parenting

Are you a stage mom? Are you the dad, who gives the Little League coach a hard time? Do you bark orders at your child and expect them to be followed to the letter? If this describes you even remotely, there is a good chance that you are living vicariously through your children. Don't fool yourself: there is a bitter cost attached to this kind of parenting style.

Living Vicariously Through Your Children Frustrates Them

As children mature, they thrive on the separateness between the parent and them. While they still require full time parental guidance, they also need a somewhat hands-off approach in many areas of life. In others, they require gentle nudging. A parent, who lives vicariously through a child, will steamroll over a child's wishes, likes and dislikes with the explanation that s/he knows best what will do junior a world of good.

This may be the stage mom, who requires a daughter to prance on stage in a toddler beauty contest, even though the child is utterly miserable. It may be the sports dad, who yells at his child or the coach from the sidelines during pee wee soccer, even though the child would much rather participate in a gymnastics class. Much harder to notice, it is also the parent, who runs the home like a boot camp barrack where even the hint of dissent or disagreement is severely punished. Children left in the wake of this kind of parenting are quickly frustrated. As they are brought in line with the parent's thinking with the help of heavy handed discipline, they eventually get the message that they are not able to make any self determining decisions. Over time, these children exchange the constant frustration by simply giving up and letting the parent make all the decisions.

Characteristics of a Frustrated Child

It is interesting to note that a frustrated child will initially respond with depression, but over time this depression will turn into anger. As the child embraces feelings of negative self worth, s/he will become bitter and ashamed. At the same time, s/he will try to at least experience some of that separation from the parent that is an essential building block in healthy parent-child relationships. This gives way to destructive rebellion, which might express itself in unhealthy means, such as property damage and drug use.

Why Parents Live Vicariously Through Their Children

Some parents may suffer from low self esteem and vow to not let their children make the same mistakes they made as a youngster. While this sounds like a noble undertaking, it also negates the child's developing ability to think for themselves and points to an unhealthy need for parental control. In some cases, the parent is simply unaware of her or his own needs, and seeks to make up for a perceived but undefined lack simply by controlling every aspect of the relationships around; this of course leads to the eventual dismantling of a relationship's healthy foundation.

Turning it Around with James 1:19

There is hope! The next time when your child expresses frustration, stop and sit down. Encourage your child to share with you what frustrates them. Do not comment, but be quick to listen and slow to speak. Mull over your child's responses.

Do not respond with anger when your child does not enjoy the things you think s/he should. If your toddler does not enjoy participating in the beauty pageants in which you enroll her, why not let her try a Gymboree class or tot lot session, and see how she does? You may be surprised to learn that your child will become poised through her surroundings, not by participating in pageantry. Conversely, if your child does not enjoy soccer, let her or him try another sport.

Examine your motives. Are you objecting to your son's quitting Little League because it is the quintessential American pastime that every youngster should enjoy or is it because you want to ensure he has a sport he practices? If it is the former, you truly need to let go of your exasperating parenting style, while the latter is easily served by allowing the child to pick a different sport.

About Sylvia Cochran

parenting skillsSylvia Cochran - Christian Parenting Corner and Parenting By the Book and Parenting By the Book Christian Parenting Book Reviews

Sylvia is a seasoned writer, born and raised in Germany. Having been exposed to a variety of religions and traditions due to travel and study, Sylvia has been a student of the Bible for more than ten years, and has for the last four years taught in small groups about Biblical principles, practical Christianity, Christian parenting, as well as the spiritual use of money. Sylvia also provides Free Online Courses at Suite 101. Sylvia's goal is to provide help and encouragement to raise the next generation of Christ-followers.


More Christian Parenting Resources:

Christianity Today

Catholic Parenting

Christian Parenting Books

Comments (0)

E-mail (Will not appear online)
To prevent automated Bots form spamming, please enter the text you see in the image below in the appropriate input box. Your comment will only be submitted if the strings match. Please ensure that your browser supports and accepts cookies, or your comment cannot be verified correctly.

Free Christian Parenting Courses:

1. Bible 101 offers an introduction to the greatest book ever written in 8 easy lessons.

2. Christian Parenting 101 is a step by step guide to transforming your home into a Christian household, no matter how old your children are.

3. Money Skills for Kids is a “must” for any parent/caregiver who is not entirely certain how to raise a fiscally responsible child.

4. Grief ... Getting Beyond the Pain will help you to help yourself and others to survive, overcome, and move past this most powerful emotion.

Parenting By the Book
Christian Book Reviews

The Parents' Commandments

This Year for Christmas I Intend To Deprive My Children

Christian Christmas

The Ambassador Man/Gal

Why Did Jesus Have To Die?

Children Learn What They Live Poem

Set Free Or Bogged Down By Rules?

Sex And The Christian Parent Pre-Marital Sex II

Spanking…An Acceptable Form of Discipline? from the Christian Parenting Corner

Contemplating Your Birth from the Christian Parenting Corner

Holiday Gifts For the Military

Celebrations and the Christian Parent--Thanksgiving

Just In Time for Halloween and Fall Festivals: Divine Carvings

Body Image

Christian Parenting Resources

Honor Your Father


Learning from Jesus


Raising a Spiritual American

Pre-Marital Sex



Celebrating Christmas

Another New Year's Resolution

RawSome Recipes by Robyn Boyd

Marriage and Divorce

Using God’s Name


Know Your Child's Learning Style

Teaching Christian Kids About Discrimination

Valentine's Day Recipes

Teaching Kids About Love

Healthy Self Esteem For Your Child

Keeping It Real - Why Did Jesus Have To Be Executed?

Exciting new churches are getting started in Central Florida. Find out how you can connect with a new community of faith in the Orlando area.

Christian Edition

Worthy Links - Christian Search Engine

Church Of The .Net


About Us     Contact Us    Advertise with us    Sitemap English    Sitemap Español      Sitemap Français     

Copyright © 2003 - 2014, Families Online Magazine a division of Smarter Changes, LLC