In his helpful book, Kid CEO {How To Keep Your Children From Running Your Life}, Ed Young explores the challenges of marriage after children enter the family arena. Young is especially concerned about children becoming the center of the family universe. He colorfully describes the situation as children becoming “Kid CEO” while their parents becoming “the support staff.” The results, say Young, are devastating.

I want to share a couple of extended quotes from this book which might be thought provoking.

“What is happening in these homes is a crisis of leadership. The truth of the matter is that leaders aren’t leading. Parents in many families today aren’t stepping up and paving a path of purpose. In fact, what is happening is a role reversal. In other words, kids are running the asylum. They are leading, and the parents are following. As a result, the home has become a lop-sided landslide of mayhem – it has become kid driven rather than parent driven” (page 5).

“The tug of war begins the moment the ob-gyn slaps a baby on the rear end and says, ‘It’s a boy’ or ‘It’s a girl.’ Immediately, an organizational shift occurs. With the entrance of a child into the family system, a dual resignation takes place. The wife resigns from her primary role, that of being the wife, and she becomes a mother. She immerses herself in the lives of her children, their every need, want, and desire. In essence, she marries
them. . . . Likewise, the husband resigns from his primary role, that of being a husband, and becomes a father” (pages 5-6).

Throughout the book Young explores ways in which to keep this from happening. I think young couples especially would find some of the material very helpful, including his thoughts on maintaining sexual intimacy after children are born, discipline, and raising well-rounded children (he has some very strong words about limiting your child’s extra-curricular activities).

My wife and I have always thought one of the keys to successful parenting is to parent with the end in mind. Throughout our years of raising kids we frequently asked, “Where will this ultimately take us?” Or, put another way, “If we start down this road with our children, where will it lead us and them?” We had a specific goal in mind for our children, we wanted them to be able to turn them loose and let them function as Christian young adults. As a result of these long-held beliefs, I really enjoyed the closing section of Young’s book on embracing the ultimate goal of parenting.

“No other job is as rewarding, fulfilling, or difficult as that of being a parent. But just like our professional careers, parenting does have a beginning and an end. Some may say that once we have kids, we are parents for the rest of our lives. That is true, in a sense. But in very hands-on terms, it is a finished responsibility when our kids leave home. After that, our relationship with our kids morphs into one of counselor and friend. We might even say that, as parents, we are actually working ourselves out of a job” (page 214).

Here’s one more quote taken from the book’s concluding thoughts.
“When it comes right down to it, parenting is a celebration of the uniqueness and individuality of children. And when your kids do finally leave home, you will be rejoicing, not because you you’re glad to see them go, but because you have done what God wanted you to do. That’s what it’s all about – coming to the end of the adolescent road and seeing your children blossom into loving, caring adults with all of the character qualities, skills, and confidence they need to make it on their own” (page 227).

If I were to summarize what I think is one of the keys to successful parenting it would go something like this: if you want to be ready to confidently send your kids out into the world prepared to run their own lives, don’t let them run the family while they are growing up. That’s very close to what Young is saying in this helpful book.

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