Good goals can easily become ultimate goals and therefore unbiblical goals. The most natural expression of the unbiblical goals we have for our kids is our desire to see them succeed. We want our kids to be successful so they can live peaceful lives that are filled with opportunity and guarded from pain, loss, tragedy, and suffering. We strive for our kids to succeed because we rightly recognize that the soil in which our kids are raised has much to do with future success. The goals about to be discussed are not evil in and of themselves. In fact, most of the goals below can be good goals if they do not become ultimate goals. It is when we put the goal of making our kids successful above the goal of equipping our children to know and enjoy God that we need to reevaluate the goals we have for our children.
(1) Kids with Skillz: The goal is to enlist children in as many activities (athletic, artistic, musical, etc.) as time may (or may not) allow.
- Do I measure my success by the number of activities in which my kids are involved?
- Do I measure my child’s success by the number of skills she has mastered?
- Do I measure my child’s success by his mastery of any one skill or ability?
(2) Psychologically Adjusted Kids: The goals for the psychological adjustment of children often drift according to the pop psychology of the day. These goals may include building self-esteem, training kids to be effective with people, or perhaps raising kids who are not spoiled.
- Do I measure my success by how closely I align myself with a particular method of parenting?
- Do I measure my child’s success by how much he esteems himself or how much he esteems others?
(3) Christian Kids: The goal is to get children “saved” as soon as possible by any means possible. The focus is on getting children to pray “the sinner’s prayer” in hopes that having saved kids will eliminate parenting struggles.
- Do I measure my success as a parent in relation to how my child responds to or is able to articulate the gospel? The goodness of the Father is not seen in the way his sons respond to Him, but in his faithful mercy toward them (Luke 15:11-31, “the parable of the Lost Son”). We cannot know with absolute certainty whether or not our child is saved. (e.g. Matthew 7:21-23 “Lord, Lord”)
- Do I think that having Christian kids will change my job description as a parent? It won't Our task is still to faithfully teach our kids the gospel story and tenderly encourage our child to trust God not only for salvation, but also for daily living. “Repentance and faith are not acts performed one time to become a Christian. They are attitudes of the heart toward ourselves and our sin. Faith is not just the way to get saved; it is the lifeline of Christian living.”—Tedd Tripp
(4) Spiritual Kids: The goal is to commit to and follow through as a family to have regular times of Bible reading and prayer with the understanding that “a family that prays together stays together.”
- Do I measure my success as a parent in relation to the structure and frequency of our family worship routine?
- Do I measure my child’s success by her willingness to participate in family worship?
(5) Well-Behaved Kids: We want our children to develop poise, be kind, converse with respect to others, be hospitable, and serve others. In making this an ultimate goal, we fail to realize that this is a secondary benefit of biblical childrearing. In doing so, we emphasize modifying behavior over shepherding the heart.
- Do I measure my success by how well I prepare or pressure my children to respond to every conceivable situation or circumstance?
- Do I measure my child’s success by his ability to outwardly respond to my instruction?
(6) Healthy Kids: The goal is to stop at nothing so that our kids are healthy, well-functioning, and safe from suffering. In making this an ultimate goal, we fail to see that suffering is inevitable, and safety has more to do with avoiding eternal death than avoiding hurt in this world?
- Do I measure my success by how frequently I’m able to prepare well-balanced meals for our family in accordance with the most healthful diet?
- Do I measure my child’s success by his ability to meet developmental goals or avoid illness?
(7) Smart Kids: The goal is to stop at nothing to prepare our kids for educational success so that they may achieve academic awards, scholarly recognition, and eventually be recruited for privileged job opportunities. Sadly, it is possible to be well educated and still not understand life.
- Do I measure my success as a parent by how well I prepare my child for a lifetime of education or the educational opportunities that I provide for them?
- Do I measure my child’s success by how well she performs in school or how much she knows in relation to other kids her age?
 Tedd Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, 40-44.
 See Pastor Jared Kennedy’s “9 Reasons Not to Ask Jesus Into Your Heart,” http://sojournkids.com/2008/11/9-reasons-not-to-ask-jesus-into-your-heart-numbers-1-to-3/, Marty Machowski’s Leading Children Towards Gospel Repentance and Faith, Covenant Fellowship Church, 2007. www.covfel.org, and Leslie Leyland Fields’ “The Myth of the Perfect Parent: Why the Best Parenting Techniques Don’t Produce Christian Children,” http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/january/12.22.html.
 Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, 52-53.