I remember my mother introducing me to her friends and smiling when they commented on how pretty her little girl was. She had dreams of me being a movie star one day. Then I grew into an ugly stage as a teen and I could see the disappointment on her face when glimpses of future stardom vanished into thin air. I learned from a young age how a woman can make her children into personal trophies and create confusion in their spirit.

In raising my sons I had to learn to let them have their own process to hear God and determine their values. They needed to break free of what I expected them to believe. Thank God my two boys were not easily manipulated and they had the capacity to discern truth. They observe life and they won’t do things just because everyone else does it. I remember my older son challenging me and saying, “Why do you get so upset when we challenge ideas? It’s like you’re not sure because if you were really sure you would not feel the need to be so defensive! If it’s the truth we will find it. Do you not trust that?”
My younger son recently watched the movie Spotlight and I could tell what he was thinking. He’s not easily impressed by people with spiritual resumes, he watches their lives. And so it is with many in their twenties. They are not impressed with a title, they want to see authenticity.

As a leader of a mega Christian women’s ministry there are times I feel tempted to use my kids as trophies. I want what they do to reflect positively on me. But God reminds me they weren’t created for me they were created for Him. God also reminds me the time I found my path was when I no longer lived to be my mother’s trophy but to find my own identity under Christ. So that’s what I try to do for my sons. They must have the freedom to work their own process and settle their convictions. And I must trust that the same God who led me to truth is leading my sons. He is faithful from one generation to the next. How are you trusting God with the next generation?

10 Responses to “Do You Have Trophy Children?”

  1. Daughter of the King says:

    I was a trophy child. I always felt like my parents put me up on this pedestal. For a greater part of my life, I thrived on that pedestal and worked hard to stay there, but as I got older I realized it gave me the “golden child” or a “hero” complex. My perfectionism was birthed on that pedestal. I couldn’t mess up, I couldn’t let anyone down. It was exhausting and frankly impossible to maintain. I’m glad I finally found the freedom to find my own identity under Christ, although sometimes I still live there. I can’t be the only one who feels that way sometimes.

    • Anita Carman says:

      I think my sons felt the pressure to succeed. One day they said to me, “You say you don’t put any pressure on us but we feel it. We know that you think we’ve been given all this opportunity and that our lives were so blessed compared to your childhood. We feel this unspoken pressure to do something with our lives like we owe something to the world. And we’re happy to do that but sometimes we just don’t know yet what we’re supposed to be doing.” One of my sons said, “Mom, we are at the top level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. We don’t worry about rent but there is a lot of pressure to figure out your prurpose in life. It’s just as painful at the top of the hierarchy as it is at the bottom.” I had to learn to look at my sons as fellow sojourners in life. They need me to give them the freedom to process life and to do it with God without having me hovering over them like helicopter Mom! Most of all, we need me to respect them as individuals and to simply say, “It will all work out. I know you’ll figure everything out!” And then just let them grow at their own pace!

      • Daughter of the King says:

        I think the funny thing is that it is my default setting. There are times I’m reminded that I don’t have to be on a performance track but I find myself on it unintentionally. I often wonder, since the Lord doesn’t waste anything, if the Lord will use something like that for His glory, or if it is the cross I have to bear daily

        • Anita Carman says:

          Today I tell my sons to make sure what they are chasing are the dreams God gave them. Thank God I believe what I have transferred to them is a passion to pursue dreams but their dreams are different than mine. I think it’s healthy for them to want me to be proud of them but they don’t live for my pleasure. They know I am proud of them for being men of character. As for what they choose to do with their lives that’s between them and God. I remember one of my sons went through a phase where he wanted to be a beach bum. Then he figured out he liked the comforts of life and needed an income. Then he decided he would use his talents to work at a job where he could make a difference and then enjoy the beach on vacation. When he came up with the beach bum idea everything in me wanted to start yelling about all his talent and years of education. But I knew this was his process and he needed me to not roll my eyes or go into panic mode every time he rethinks life. Sometimes we have the break the pot, get out of the boundaries of how we used to think in order to reassemble who we are. God allowed me that process. Will I trust Him while my children go through that same process? Someone said the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Instead of micro managing my kid’s life I need to focus on what kind of tree am I?

  2. faithie says:

    being a trophy anything was never my identity, and i think it’s great that you are not making your children into trophy children, i love that i can just be me and not have to live up to a trophy expectation. i know that i am God’s trophy and it’s not because of anything that I have done, but because he created me to be His master piece just the way I am.

    • Anita Carman says:

      Good for you! I wish I didn’t spend so many years trying to meet the expectations of everyone around me. But oh what freedom I experienced when I finally realized that all things were created for God and by God and that I exist to serve Him only!

  3. Kelly Robertson Burnett says:

    I think that it is so hard to not let what our kids do and say affect us positively or negatively,I love that you share so openly about your own struggle in this area. In my own journey, I’m learning my role s as their mom is actually temporary and my job is to continue to point them to Christ, it truly has so little to do with me…and then the biggie…I must TRUST God with who they are and how He is transforming them into His image. I have to make sure I’m not in His way of their development. Sometimes this is the hardest part of being a mom, but there is freedom when we surrender back to God what is His….and in doing so, just like you, I am letting God transform my own heart and lead me.

    • Anita Carman says:

      Kelly, I think as parents we want so much for our children. We see their potential and we just want God’s best for them. But I had to learn to speak less and to pray more. My sons needed the freedom to ask questions and to work through their own process. At first I didn’t understand why they even had questions. I kept thinking that they had a stable family and they should be miles ahead of me. And they are in that they are much more secure than I was in my twenties. But it didn’t mean they didn’t have questions. And they needed the freedom to ask them without having me freak out or accuse them of being a heathen. I had to trust that the seeds that were planted in their lives would bear fruit. My older son is in a country with 127 million people and less than 1 percent Christians. At first I could not understand why God put him in this environment and how this could possibly be good for his spiritual growth. But the crazy thing is, it took being in such an environment for him to realize that he had to settle what he believed. There was no network around him to remind him. There was not christian structure. There was no mom or dad warning him. All he had was the word of God that he had hidden in heart. And the thing I learned is that we can trust the power in God’s Word. And we can trust in the character of God who is faithful from generation to generation! You are doing great with your kids. Keep up the good work!

  4. Lori Metevia says:

    As a former teacher, I can testify that this is very common among Americans. My mom was that way too. She expected me to be perfect. When we seek our identity through others, we are always disappointed. Children are an idol for most American women. This pressure causes the children to become depressed and insecure. It has the opposite effect that these mothers hoped for. I never gave into the pressure; however, my students would often require pills to get through the day.

    When I look at your blogs which ask questions like, “Were you really cut out to play the leading role?” or “What do people say when you enter the room?”, it reminds me of my mother’s voice saying similar things. This is why I have started a movement with young adults to get those negative unhelpful voices out of their heads. I empower young adults to be leaders instead of followers and to not let anyone or any negative statement deter their dreams. At the same time, I teach them the character traits that lead to success-honesty, perseverance, unselfishness, and hard work. I have a track record of turning gang members into the hardest working folks around. I turned hundreds of D/F students into straight A students by teaching the the secrets that I learned to get the negative voices out of their head. I enjoy transforming lives. If my mother was not the type of woman to spoil me and make me feel like I could not do anything on my own, I would not know how to teach young ladies to fight against these negative voices from their family and the culture. Overcoming negativity and teaching others to do the same is going to be my legacy and I am proud of it. Just like Joseph and David, I will continue to turn bad experiences into stepping stones for success for myself and others.

  5. Anita Carman says:

    It’s amazing how God can use our pain and turn it into our victory song. Thanks for sharing what you’re doing with young adults. They are the future!!!

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