Monday, July 20, 2009

High Expectations

So many times you hear people stating the negatives of child raising. "Oh, you think it's bad now. Just wait until..." "Get ready, the terrible twos are just around the corner." "You should have your kids close together in age so they can grow up together, but they will argue a lot." Whether these opinions are being voiced because of a persons experiences with their own children, or because it was what they were told and always heard so they pass their "wisdom" on to others, I think these negative labels and expectations need to stop.

Right now, Addie is at a place where she is beginning to test the waters to see if Mommy and Daddy really mean what they say. Recently, while we were visiting at someone's house, Addie decided to test us over there. Brian and I stepped up to remind her that the rules remain intact regardless of where we are. And that is where we heard, "Oh, here come the terrible twos." Our reply, "No, we will not be having terrible twos. With God's help, we are going to have terrific twos." You see we can lower our expectations for Addie and just expect her to behave how she feels like behaving at the age of 16 months. Or, Brian and I can take a proactive approach to parenting, and take the time (inconvenient as it may be at the time) to teach and train her to be a little girl that obeys her parents as God commands in Ephesians 6:1 and conducts herself with age appropriate manners.

After being in the teaching field for 11 years, the one thing that I found to be true of most children is that they will always try to live up to your expectations of them. I always told my students that I thought they were the greatest, and they always behaved that way for me. Our favorite line in class was, "You are the best 4th/5th grade class in the whole school." They would always respond as a class, "We're the only 4th/5th grade class in the whole school!" I would always come back with, "So obviously you guys are the best!" I am thankful to say that I was always to proud to walk with my class. At the end of the year, I would always have at least one parent tell me, "At the beginning of the year I thought your expectations of these kids was too high (academically and behaviorally), but they lived up to your expectations. Thanks."
 
Kids want goals to reach for, new heights to conquer. Too many parents lower the expectation for their children with "terrible twos", "rebellious teenage years", "never listen to me", and "they think they know everything". When their children meet their expectation because they have heard it their whole life, the parents throw their arms up in the air and don't understand what went wrong with their kids. They don't realize that the very words that they spoke over their children, created the problem that they now have on their hands. My parent's didn't believe in all of the clich├ęs of age groups, labels, or lowered expectations. My sister and I never experienced the terrible twos or the rebellious teenage years. No, we weren't perfect, and, yes, we had a lot of learning experiences and teachable moments along the way. But our parents raised the bar of their expectations, and we rose to the challenge of meeting them.

Let me also add, that high expectations need to be balanced with healthy doses of unconditional love. Children cannot and should not feel that they will only receive their parent's love if they reach the expectations set for them. Generally speaking, when children feel loved by their parents for no other reason than they are their parents' children, they, in turn, want to reach the expectations put before them. You cannot have one without the other.

The incident with Addie and the comment said made me think back to a scrapbook page I had done before I knew I was pregnant. The date on the page is June 2007 and I didn't find out that I was expecting until a month later. However, we were planning to be become pregnant, and the "Mommy feelings" were already there. I decided to write down what our expectations for our children would be.

So many times children grow up not knowing what their parents expect from them- values, goals, purpose. Your father and I have been praying for you since before you were conceived. I have prayed that God would make you into a mighty man or woman for Him...that you come to know the Lord as your personal Savior at a very early age...that you receive the wisdom of Solomon, the leadership skills of Moses, the fighting-for-the-Lord spirit of Joshua, the courage of Esther, the integrity of Joseph, the legacy of Abraham, the talent of David, the passion of Peter, the humility of John, and the spirit of Elijah...that you live up to the significance of the names we have chosen for you...and that you carry Christ into your play, studies, work, and decisions forever. Mom.

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