Jimmy and Kristin Scroggins have been married 26 years and have eight children. They have served at Family Church in South Florida since Jimmy became the lead pastor in 2008. The Scrogginses are passionate about building families by helping them discover and pursue God’s design.
You have eight children, but Americans in general are having fewer children. Why do you think that is?
The Scrogginses have been parents for 25 years.
“In today’s world, most people see marriage and childbearing as a capstone rather than a cornerstone for their life,” Jimmy said. “I think a lot of people try to get their education and career going—and after they get their bucket list things accomplished—they get married as an ornament to the life they’ve already built as a single person. Then, the two of them build a life, and children are an ornament to decorate the marriage. Instead, we should build our life around those two institutions. It’s better for our society, churches and human flourishing.”
Kristin said children are sometimes seen as disruptors to adult ambitions.
“It really causes us to think selfishly about the whole idea about these relationships,” Kristin added. “If we’re not careful, we see that marriage or kids are interruptions to what we could be doing with our life. That is so counter to what God has designed these relationships to be.”
How do you all make sure your children don’t get in the way of your marriage?
The Scrogginses said there is a lot of competition for their time, but despite eight children and a busy ministry, they don’t budge on the most significant relationship.
“A good theology leads to a good strategy that leads to good conversations with our kids,” Kristin said. “It helps us to keep our marriage at the center of our family dynamic and our kids benefit from that. So, they understand that mom and dad are a unit and the kids can’t separate or wedge in between us. That is the premium relationship. It’s carving out time to spend together, even the way that we speak to one another and about one another privately and publicly in front of our children.”
“We like to say to the kids, though I love them to death, ‘If you make me choose between you guys and your mom, I’m choosing your mom,’” Jimmy added.
How do you sustain strong relationships with each of your children?
Instead of seeing connection with individual children as of utmost importance, the Scrogginses focus on doing things together. They want their children to have shared experiences.
“We really haven’t made individual relationships the centerpiece of our strategy as a family; we’ve made team Scroggins the strategy of our family,” Jimmy said. “We try to spend a lot of time together. We try to have our kids spend a lot of time together because we want our kids to love one another, pull for one another. Of course, we have a real family. It’s not a magic family, so we have the same kinds of challenges any other family has, but we really believe in the team Scroggins concept.”
How can parents capitalize on discussions they have with their children?
The Scrogginses want to give parents a “map” to be able to have healthy and honest conversations with their children.
“I think as parents we get in panic mode when we see our kids struggling. We internalize all of their sin and failure and think that’s a reflection on us, so instead of walking through the truth of the Gospel with our kids, we start throwing punishments at them and yelling,” Kristin said. “I think the Gospel helps us to calm down, take some of the sting out when our kids are struggling or having a tough time because we understand the theology of sin in our kids’ lives and in the world around them.”
Jimmy said children do not mature overnight.
“We talk about complexity and management,” Jimmy added. “One of the dangers is we see our kids doing some amazing things like reading the Bible, worshiping the Lord or volunteering to do something kind for someone else, but then that same kid is telling lies and looking at something inappropriate on YouTube. It’s tempting for us to say they’re hypocrites. We need to understand our kids are complex and sinners like we are. The second concept is management because a lot of times parents see their sin issues as something they should deal with in one conversation. However, the truth is parenting requires thousands of conversations. A lot of times it feels repetitive because it’s like ‘Groundhog Day.’”
Do you find that most parents’ expectations for their children are too high or too low?
“I think we have too high of expectations on what they should be doing, like good grades, success in school or athletic accolades—and then at the same time—we have low expectations of our kids’ spirituality,” Kristin said.