Thursday, March 3, 2011

Book Club Thursday | Mama Made the Difference

Mamas Teach Us to Set the Standards High

Anyone who knew my mother knew the kind of standards she set for herself and her family.  And believe me they were high.  Because of the standards of behavior and character that she set for us, I believe that now, as a woman and mother myself, I have continued the tradition of setting a high standard.

As a 13 year old, I came up with the personal standard that I was not going to kiss anyone until my wedding day.  It was not a standard that my parents set for me, but because of the teaching that had been poured into me, it was a standard that I set for myself... and one that I, by the grace of God, kept. Brian is the only man that I have ever kissed, and our first was at the altar on our wedding day.

My sister and I never experienced the "terrible twos" or the "rebellious teenage years" because our parents expected us not to.  They set the standard high for us and did not make those "stages" an option for us.

As a student, I continued keeping a high standard.  I commuted to college (I was too much of a homebody to be interested in living on campus) and did not miss a class until my 4th semester when I came down with chicken pox.  Many of the students who did live on campus skipped classes and thought nothing of it. 

Why was I so strict on myself?  Because my mother had taught me to set the standard high

As a teacher, I continued raising the standard, not just for myself but for my students as well.  Every year, when it was time to meet the new class and their parents, I was always told by scared parents that they had heard that I had high standards and expectations for my students, and they were afraid their child(ren) could not meet my expectations. 

I always told these parents my favorite quote from Lady Bird Johnson, "Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them."  I believed their children could live up to my expectations... and they almost always did.

As a mother myself, I have set high the standard high for Addie.  We have high expectations for her behavior and her education.  Does she always perform perfectly?  No, she is a child, but the standard is always there, and when she stumbles we bring her back to the standard of behavior that we expect. 

Did we experience the terrible twos? No, I don't believe we did.  Did we have moments when she tried testing the boundaries? Yes. But it was not an entire year and we moved on quickly from each bump.   

Is she learning to live up to the standard that we have set for her?  Yes!  Our first goal for her is to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ and with each devotional we share, every Bible lesson we have, every verse she memorizes, and every time we pray together we see the seeds of that relationship being watered and growing.  The other night she asked to pray for dinner and of course, we let her.  She folded her hands and prayed, "Dear God, Bless the food. Amen!" There was power behind the "bless"... it was adorable, but made us feel good that we are on the right track.

Our next goal for her is to respect and obey her parents.  When she obeys quickly with a happy heart, we see the evidence of that goal being reached in her life.  When she kisses my cheek and asks, "Mommy, was that kind?" I see that she is learning and understanding that she needs to be kind and respectful to us as her parents.

Our next goal is for her to be a joy to everyone else that she comes into contact with.  When people speak to her, she responds (not always on the phone, but definitely in person).  She greets people with a smile and a hug.  She makes everyone who walks through our door feel welcomed and at home.

As for her schooling, for a child who just turned three, she is already counting up to fifteen, says her alphabets and knows their sounds, can read many sight words, and can use a computer and mouse to get around her many games.

Should my standards be the same ones for someone else's child? Absolutely not! 

As mothers, we are each to set the standards high for our own children based on what we know they are capable of.  We should not set low standards out of fear that our children cannot live up to what we envision for them. That will give us children who are under acheivers who think that they do not have to work to reach a goal.  We should also not set the standard so high that it is unattainable.  That will give us very frustrated children who will never feel good enough. 

Setting the standard higher than what is "normally" expected is good.  It teaches our children to work a little harder than those around them to reach an acheivable goal. 

And we must be sure to reward them when they have reached those high standards that we have set. 

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