Trophy Child


Perusing through the bookstore, a catchy title caught my eye and I yelled for my husband.  There the two of us stood, mouths agape, as we stared at the cover of Trophy Child…and the parents that enable them.

The book had a cover of a sports star kid and his adoring parents fawning over him.

This book hit way too close to home –in an irritating and pissy sort of way.

I didn’t even want to pick it up.  I knew what it would say and I didn’t really want to hear it.

The truth is parents of kids who excel either in athletics or sports or even the arts DO treat their kids differently. 

I know this because I have two other kids along with my trophy child.

I’m certainly not spending a fortune on private coaches and speed training and all the little extras we do for Kyle on my other two.  To some extent I even expect Faith and Kolby to sacrifice for their brother. Our whole family is behind him and together with my ex-husband we are Team Kyle

I openly admit I give this kid special treatment.  I don’t wake up at the crack of dawn to make a hot meal for anyone in my family but my son.  We drive an extra distance to his private school. I run over to the school whenever he calls to bring him little things to make his life easier.  There are late-night runs to Sports Chalet and I help him with homework when he is too tired to hold up his head.  We go out of our way to meet his needs, even if it means the other two suffer a bit in the process.

I don’t do this for my girls.  I love and adore and treasure my girls but I’m not a butt kisser to them like I am my son. But it doesn’t mean if they had a dream like Kyle I wouldn’t be willing to do the same for them.  In fact, I hope and pray they do!

Now, part of our special treatment is directly related to Kyle’s effort.  The kid has heart and discipline and strives at a level I am in awe of.  He wakes up at 5:45am every morning to stretch before weight-lifting.   He does extra workouts on his own, on top of the extra workouts we schedule for him.  He is committed and focused and I want with all my heart to help him achieve his goal of playing college football.   He works hard in school and performs at a high-caliber.  It doesn’t hurt that he also a really nice and amiable kid. 

We expect a lot and he over-achieves on every level.

But where I know we fall into the trophy child trap is putting his success before the rest of the family and sometimes even before God.  Football takes all his time and at least during the season, there is no time for extras.  Youth group goes by the wayside.  Service is missed.  It’s about all I can do to shake him out of his stupor on Sunday mornings to get him to stumble in to church with me.

He suits up for three games a week.  He practices twenty hours.  The abuse on his body by week eight of the season is intense.  Every inch of Kyle has a bruise or a cleat mark.  His pinky is a puff-ball of black and I am deeply grateful we have gotten this far in the season without any major injuries. 

I know there is probably an appropriate balance between sports and God and not allowing our son to get a big head; I just don’t think it’s as easy or trite as some make it out to be.  Commitment means sacrifice.  But God is clearly a non-negotiable. 

And so we must teach our son to weave him into every facet of his day, into each game and during the seasons where he is deeply engaged both on and off the field.

So here’s to trying to living by God’s priority and not our own in the midst of raising a trophy child. 


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