I’ve had some limited experience meeting with newlyweds over the years. You know these couples, right? They love their soon-to-be husband or wife, and as I begin to sit down and talk with them I discover that their expectations of marriage are wildly different for marriage. He thinks that it’s going to be great to start a family soon, and she is excited to finish her 2nd graduate degree before maybe having kids. As the counselor, it’s my goal to help them set realistic and right expectations for each other. As the married man, it just seems to obvious.
Yet as a father, I’m more than guilty of holding inappropriate expectations for my own kids every day. I expect math to be easy for them, because it was easy for me. I expect them to love baseball, but they just want to wear the hats and drink Capri suns afterwards. When they’re young, it starts so innocently. Then they become teenagers one day, and I then hold the potential for my bad expectations of them to keep them from what they could become. I expect greatness to look like one thing, and I discover later on that greatness was there all along.
If your children regularly fail to measure up to your standards, you might be expecting too much.
Then there is the nasty flip side of expectations. Some parents expect almost nothing from their kids. In such settings, children can lose energy or passion because they are never helped to “reach forward to those things which are ahead” (Phil 3:13). In other homes too much is expected. Experience teaches that unreasonable expectations are the ideal breeding ground for discouragement.
As parents let us be guilty of encouragement, and let us be convicted when our expectations get in the way of who these wonderful children are becoming each day.