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Reaching Expectations

When I work with parents who are frustrated with their children’s behaviors, I show them how their expectations are unclear, inconsistent, and they have not established consequences for when their children don’t meet those expectations. Often, parents can’t even agree on what the expectations should be, so the kids are left to guess what the expectations are. Even when parents can agree what expectations they want the children to meet, they have poor follow-through with consequences as neither parent wants to be the disciplinarian.

Parents can grow weary at the never-ending demands of parenting and may give up parenting all together and let the kids raise themselves. Sadly, this method of hands-off parenting has resulted in children becoming addicted to sex, drugs, and cutting behaviors and even suicide. Children who never learned responsibility are suddenly responsible for their (poor) choices and the consequences that result. They feel their parents lack of engagement reflects their parent’s lack of care, concern, or that their parents don’t love them.

Parents tell me that they care, but no one ever taught them how to be responsible, they learned it on their own, and why can’t their children learn in a similar manner? Because children today are being raised in a totally different world than the world their parents grew up in.

Parenting is hard. Being a kid is harder. Children are facing challenges never experienced by generations before. Technology has entered their minds, rewired their brains, destroyed their self-image, and damaged their souls. Parents must be more hands-on rather than hands-off. They must be proactive in teaching and training their children, and less concerned about their happiness. Parents must become strong examples of a healthy example for their children to learn from, to emulate, and to follow in their footsteps.

For too long, parents have disengaged and focused on seeking their own pleasures. They look at their phones more than their children. Then when the babies have grown into teenagers, the parents, who never noticed their behaviors before, now see them in full force. By this time, the children have learned to rely on their teachers and friends for the guidance parents neglected to give them. Before your babies get to the point of no return, teach them what you want them to learn. Give them your time, attention, care, love, and your expectations. Write them down, list the consequences, and reward them when they get it right. Encourage the positives and minimize your focus on the negatives. Show them how to do what you want them to learn…don’t just tell them. Your words may not be enough for them to understand what you are asking them. If you want them to make the bed, take a week showing them, repeating the steps, letting them watch, do, and learn. Then adjust your expectations as they continue to learn, fine tuning their skills, and rewarding their efforts. Parenting is more than barking your demands; it takes patience, time, and consistency. But most of all, it takes love.

Start children off on the way they should go,

and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Proverbs 22:6


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