I suffer from high expectations. I expect too much from my kids, my husband, myself. Somehow, I didn’t realize that until now. Several years ago, I noticed a cookie’s fortune taped to a friend’s desk. It said, “If you have no expectations, you’ll never be disappointed.” I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard. Well, not ever, but close. Sure, you can protect yourself from disappointment that way, I thought, but you are also inviting failure. Oh yeah, and did I mention that I’m an overachiever, too? Yep, classic case. I came out that way. My parents didn’t pay me for good grades; they consoled me when I got a B. I brought it on myself. So, here I am at age 28, and I’m just now realizing that my expectations are affecting more than just me; they affect all the people in my life.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m cursing my boys with these expectations, the oldest especially. We are on the strict end of the discipline spectrum. I think it’s a result of our own upbringing plus the fact that we are around other people’s kids all the time in our ministry. We see a lot of behavior we don’t want from our kids, from preschoolers to college kids.
My oldest, Will, turns four in a few months. He acts older than his age and always has—typical firstborn. Unfortunately, I’ve come to expect that from him as well. Sometimes, I find myself getting onto him for something that is just typical three-year-old behavior. I have to remind myself that he is three, not just a small adult. He tests boundaries because that’s his job. He has to figure out where we stand and how firm we are in our stance. He has to see just how independent he can be, or even wants to be. Those are all things he has to learn through experience. Sadly, I’m just trying to get him to be patient, be kind, share, blah, blah, blah. Those are legitimate concerns, but I’ve realized I worry too much about the little stuff.
There’s a family in our church whose son is a remarkable young man. We almost named Will after him, in fact. He’s going off to college next week, and he’s worried about his parents when he leaves home. Even in one of the biggest transitions of his life, he’s thinking about someone else. That’s a perfect reflection of his character. I talked to his parents this morning, and half-jokingly asked them to write me a book on how to raise boys. Forget James Dobson—I want these people. Their son is that amazing. You know what his dad said through wet eyes? He told me that that is where I’m wrong. They had nothing to do with it. It was all God and their son. They have watched with pride as he has grown into such an incredible man with a heart for God. I have seen the kind of parents they are, and I know that they had a significant role in the way their son has turned out. But they would never take the credit. Because of God’s leading role in their lives, they have given Him the glory…and their worries all along.
If there’s anything I can learn from these sweet people, it is that as much I do have a role in my boys’ lives, God is in ultimate control of their character and future. I will continue to do my best in mothering them, but I can also rest in the fact that God loves them even more than I do, as hard as that is to imagine. I will keep disciplining them, keep loving them, and keep pointing them toward God…and then I will try to have the presence of mind to sit back and enjoy the magnificent work God is doing in their lives, despite the fact that they didn’t share well as preschoolers.
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