Why “Empowering” Our Children is a Bad Idea

The message that we should empower our children can be found just about everywhere.  The idea that kids should dream big and shoot for the stars is almost sacred in our society.  We are told that they should take charge of their own destiny, and are in control…they alone have the “power” to shape their lives.   I feel quite the opposite.  I actually discourage this way of thinking with my children.


Why in the world would I do this?  When I look in John, I find this verse.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:5

Apart from Christ, we can do nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  We can’t even do a small, tiny bit of good on our own.  In Philippians I find this verse.

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Philippians 2:13

When we *think* we are making good decisions on our own, it is actually God directing our will.  It is God directing our children’s will.  We should be giving glory to God for all things, instead of automatically praising our children.

Don’t get me wrong, instead of telling my children that I’m proud of them, I say that I am thankful that the Lord has blessed them with certain gifts.  I remind them that we should give thanks to God in all things.  The power does not lie in us, but in HimWhen we “empower” our children, we are actually giving credit to them that rightfully belongs to God.

Disney Jr. programming was a big hit in our home this summer.  At just about every commercial break, a song titled, “You Can Be Who You Want to Be” played.  By August, I was ready to throw my television out the window.  (Just kidding…sort of).  I pray that my children remain grounded in the truth that without Christ, they are nothing.  They can’t be who they want to be.

We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.

Proverbs 16:9

Human beings are planners!  We would make things so much easier on ourselves if we realized that no matter how much we plan or dream, the Lord will be determining our steps.  When I was a child and teenager I had BIG plans, and my life looks nothing like I thought it would.  I know now that is because the Lord determined my steps, and not I.  I am forever thankful that He was the one in control, because I couldn’t imagine my life any other way.

I would like to encourage  you to begin praising your children in a different way.  Instead of automatically praising them, praise God for their gifts and talents.  Tell them of your thankfulness to God for them.  After all, your children are beautiful gifts from God who are created in His image!  If you do commend them for their efforts (which I do as well), be sure to remind them frequently that the Lord is who enables us to do all good things.  Instruct them to seek the Lord always, and teach them that He is the one determining their steps.  All praise be to God who is the “power” behind our actions.

13 thoughts on “Why “Empowering” Our Children is a Bad Idea

  1. Shayana Davis says:

    Are the two concepts mutually exclusive? What about “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”?

    • Nicole says:

      Hi Shayana, I believe that the Bible does not contradict itself, and when it appears to, we need to look further into context. 🙂 For example, if you looked at the verses before “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Paul is talking about being content in plenty and in want. He is basically saying that he can be content when in want because Christ has strengthened him to do so. In the NIV version (while I do read the NKJV), it says, “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength,” while talking about contentment. We take this verse out of context, and apply it to anything that we might selfishly want in our lives. The Bible also says that we will not receive if we ask for things that line up with our pleasures instead of God’s will. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. (James 4:3). To me this implies that the “all things” in Philippians could not possibly mean anything that we do with selfish motives, to increase our own creature comforts, or things such our children’s sporting events. I hope that I have not confused you more lol. Blessings to you!

  2. Jen Stults says:

    I find myself concerned with the growing “dream big” theology, too. I have no problem with dreaming big as long as Christ is at the center, but when some speak of dreaming big, it seems that the emphasis is on their dreams rather than the Lord’s plans. I think it’s a tricky balance to maintain. Our hearts are deceitful, and we can easily convince ourselves that what we want must be what God wants for us. In our home, we try to encourage our children in their gifts as well as in their personal passions, but we try to emphasize following the Lord above all. It all depends on where the heart motivation lies! Thanks for drawing attention to this! I’m stopping by from the Make Your Home Sing link-up. 🙂

  3. Leah says:

    I just wanted to take a second to say thank-you for all you do for others. I am not sure if you realize how encouraging and thought-provoking your posts can be. I found your blog in an effort to find inspiration and resources to help guide us on a recent conviction my husband and I have had regarding modesty in our home, and I am sooooo thankful I did. 🙂 Praying and thanking God for you and your family today. Your words were a blessing to me yet again today…

    • Nicole says:

      Leah, thank you so much for your kindness. It means so much and is very encouraging to me. Blessings to your sweet family!

  4. Amber says:

    Disney is an evil empire that wants to empower our kids to disobey and rebel against us and God and follow a new world. Also,they brainwash all their stars to eventually act rebellious and inappropriate and become idols for our kids to follow. It uses socery, freemason symbols and has sexual symbolism as well. I used to have Disney movies and memorabilia then the Lord convicted me to get rid of them. They are terrible idols. Walt Disney was a free mason and practiced in the occult. If you think about it many of the movies presents the main character with no parents or they die off. Also The Little Mermaid sold her soul to get her “prince”. You can find plently of information on the truth about the purpose of this industry. The name logo design of disney has the mark of the beast. They are pushing acceptence of the beast. I just need to let people know. Ephesians 5:11

    • eternityisforever says:

      Totally agree with you. I found some very interesting information about Disney a couple of years back and was shocked. It talked about programming people, especially the stars they use. Just look at Britney, she’s a perfect example. I feel really sorry for her because it seems that she’s been used and abused as a child in Disney’s evil agenda. :/

  5. Elisabeth says:

    I think this is a good message for “the other side” of the coin, so to speak. Yes, we need to teach our children to use their God-given talents to their potential (thinking of the parable of the talents here) but also to balance that by realizing who those talents came from and who is ultimately in charge. Definitely a matter of balancing both sides of the issue to teach our children both to give their best effort AND accept that God has control of the outcome!

  6. sarah says:

    My only issue with this is that the word “bless” means “to empower to prosper” the Bible also says God will give us the desires of our heart. If God empowers us how can it be a bad thing? I see no problem with saying “Wow you did an amazing job singing, isn’t God good that He gave You that talent” God our heavenly father rejoices in us when we follow Him and do good. Why as earthly parents should we not do the same?

  7. eternityisforever says:

    This was posted on facebook and lines up with what you are saying here. So glad there are others out there who are on the same wavelength when it comes to this issue.

    “Do you tell your children they can be anything they want when they grow up? Do you give them unrealistic expectations to live up to for when they get older?
    By allowing your children to watch fantasy tales like Disney movies where the women are all heroines, are you subliminally allowing your children to believe that they can be like that also, or do you let them grow up believing that life ends “happily ever after”?

    That’s all false hope for your children if you bring them up with that mindset.
    There is only one true hope and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.
    “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;” 1 Timothy 1:1

    So by bringing your children up to be in the will of God is the safest bet you could ever have.
    “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

    This (below) was posted by a friend so I thought I’d repost it here, with my addition above of course. lol

    “Debi Ann Whitehouse Young
    Instead of telling children they can be anything they want to be, (which sounds so encouraging, but it is not true,) let’s tell them they can be anything God wants them to be. THAT IS THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH! There can only be one President of the United States, one first place winner, and only one person at a time can fill a position on a team. For a Christian, all dreams should be based on biblical truth. God created each one of us ON PURPOSE FOR A PURPOSE–He has a plan in mind for our lives. He knows best how to make His plans happen, and He knows the perfect timing for the success of that plan. There are many adults today who are disappointed with the way their lives have turned out because they dreamed dreams based on unrealistic expectations. I wonder how many of them were given unrealistic encouragement. Each of IS unique, and each of us has a unique part in God’s plan. There can only be one YOU. No one else can beat you out of that position. No one else can do it better. No one but YOU can stop you from being what God wants you to be! Each one of us can accomplish that! If we base our dreams on biblical teachings, work at what we ourselves can do to make them a reality, trust God to bring about His good pleasure, not get our eyes off the fact that whatever happens–God is ALWAYS in control, we will be more able to live a peaceful and happy life. I want that for my children and my grandchildren. I believe in their ability to be and do what God has called them to do.”

  8. jantinawennerstrom says:

    Interesting perspective. I was just writing my thoughts about empowerment and it had nothing to do with dreaming big. It had everything to do with the fact that I was acting as commander in chief and not equipping my children, not empowering them to be successful in their chores and thoughts and actions. I was doing the thinking and they were the puppets. Empowerment for me, has everything to do with my type A stepping back and making room for them to own some of the responsibilities, choices, etc., that they need to make. Like all things… moderation! 🙂

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