Great Expectations

15 Nov

Alternatively titled:  Where have all the expectations gone?

Why don’t we expect anything from our kids?

No, really.

What are they expected to do?  Or not to do.  In my house, they are expected to not eat dirt from the plants, pee in appropriate receptacles, not run away…

Um… is that it?  We think that we are allowing our kids free expression.  We tidy up after them because it is easier.  We allow for mistakes, and praise things that, for previous generations,were simply expected.

Good grades?  New car.

Got yourself dressed?  Sticker for the chart.

Ate all your supper?  Or at least half?!  Dessert!

But it is worse than that.

“I could never take my kids shopping, they’d just run all over the store!”

“Oh, we don’t have any breakables- we have kids!!”

“She always screams like that when I say “no”.”

When did we get away from expecting that our kids should just behave?!  I am not a perfect parent, and several of these examples are straight from my house.  But I fear we are doing a disservice to our kids by never teaching them that there are some things that must be done for no other reason, than… it must be done.

If you expect your kids to be misbehaved at the store… guess what?  They will!

If you expect your kids to be afraid of the dentist… be prepared for years of struggles.

If you expect your kids to hang up their coats when they get home… you guessed it- your front hall will be cleaner!  Well, you’ll still have to hang up your husbands’ coat, but that is a different post…

My point is that our expectations for the next generation are WAY TOO LOW.  It seems we don’t expect anything that they can’t already do.  Or, we expect perfection the first time, and then are frustrated and give up teaching our kids to behave in socially conscious ways at all.

If you never allow your kids the opportunity to discover what is expected of him or her, then you are setting them up for failure.  Consider the kid who never stays in the service at church (or the one who never gets sent to the nursery).  When they reach the age where they must/cannot stay in the sanctuary, they will fight you!

What about the parents who won’t take their kids to restaurants.  They are afraid of bad behaviour so they always hire a babysitter.  Well, that’s great until their grandparents come to town and want to take the whole gang out to eat, and the kids are completely unprepared for how to act in a restaurant.

I am digressing from my original point though.  Children who don’t have expectations placed on them will never live up to our expectations!  So, how can we remedy this in our society?  I have no clue.  But, in my house, here are some things that my kids are expected to do, without receiving anything for it:

Get ready in the morning.  Eat their food.  Put away their things.  Not break anything.  Not colour anywhere that is not paper.  Not make messes.  Not run away in the store, park, parking lot.  Hold my hand when we cross the road.  Walk.  Wash their hands, teeth, faces, bums.  Not whine when I turn off the tv!  Not hit people, pets, things.  Not touch things that don’t belong to them.  Come when they are called.  Go to bed when they are told.

Alright alright, so that last one is a work in progress, but you get the point!  I want my kids to grow up to be beneficial members of society, and that means teaching them that I expect them to grow up to be beneficial members of society.

So… what do you expect from your kids?

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11 Responses to “Great Expectations”

  1. Amanda November 15, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    Those are all things I expect from Emily. If you baby your children too much they will be completely lost when it’s time to be independent. They need to learn how to function in the world. Everything is not always fun and easy. I know some adults who, as children, had everything done for them and trust me it did not benefit them or the people around them.
    This is just my opinion.

  2. amanda November 15, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

    Yes, yes, yes, yes. It amazes me watching what kids won’t do in the classroom…like picking up something THEY JUST dropped on the floor. Heaven forbid! It drives me nuts because yes, we were just expected to do this.
    As for lowering expectations, sadly I see it in classrooms too. “There’s no way my students can do that.” “That’s just too hard for them.” Really?! Have you tried? You might be surprised by what they CAN do, versus what you think they CAN’T do.

    BTW, you know how much I loved the coat comment…I remember how your bedroom used to look. 😉 That said…mine too!

    • Julie November 16, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

      I know some kids who if you say something like, “cut this out please” will look at you and say, “I can’t- nobody taught me”. Really? You’re 5 and someone needed to teach you to use scissors?! Take some initiative!!!

  3. Elaine November 15, 2011 at 8:23 pm #

    this sounds remarkably like a conversation that we had today. Well executed.

    to add to the list of expectations: at my house my children are expected to not rip pages out of books, not push buttons on the stereo (which *GASP* is at their level!!) and to engage each other in cooperative play. Shocking, I know.

  4. bononers November 15, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

    i expect my kids to know what i’m thinking before i think it, and to do it without complaining. 🙂

    • Julie November 16, 2011 at 9:59 am #

      HA!!

  5. Monique G November 15, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

    After working with ADHD kids for the last three years, I wholeheartdly agree! How many times have they said to me, “I can’t control myself I forgot my meds today.” What a load of … I finally started asking them who was in charge of their actions. The medications or were they actually responsible for their own behaviour. The lights started going on. Kids that no one could control or educational assistants cringed at started to behave. At least in my van. Working as a nanny, I saw many parents who had no expectations of their kids because of guilt. I could get them to eat their veggies, say please and thank you and never have any problems taking them anywhere. Not the parents. My angels would change into little terrors as soon as their parents walked in the door. The danger with all of this is when they go to the work place and they don’t get their stickers for showing up on time every day from their employers. Imagine how these kids will function in society. What a disservice parents are doing to their kids!

  6. April Clement November 16, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    Good post Julie! My husband and I were just talking about this the other day…the kids didn’t want to go to town, but we needed to get things done. We have, in the past, not gone because they put up a stink, but then we talked about them learning that some things have to be done and we don’t always enjoy it either. Anyway, children shouldn’t be the bosses, at home or in the classroom…but so many parents are allowing that to happen. Look out when they are teenagers!

  7. greenandfrugalsamanda November 18, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    I agree that we need to teach and guide our kids. In my home the kids know to eat their food, pick up their toys, stay in their room during quiet time, etc. They know if we go to someone’s house to treat people’s things with respect, OR ELSE! However, I do not go to restaurants with my kids, nor do I frequent many stores with my youngest one. Sometimes personalities play a big part….point in case, I can take my daughter anywhere, but my toddler son can have a meltdown a minute after we’ve entered the store…and for absolutely no reason in particular….he hasn’t asked or been refused anything, it just comes out of the blue. He has always had trouble with new places and new people. I know I could keep taking him out until he gets used to it, but seeing as he hasn’t gotten used to it by 2.5, (Seriously, when he was a baby someone would look at him and he’d cry…and he’d be in MY arms!) I’ve decided I will make other arrangements until he is a little older, which is not a big inconvenience for me….However, it is VERY stressful for me to get anything done outside the home with him in tow so why do it if I can avoid it right now? I used to do all those things people say -keep doing it until they get used to it for many things, like nursery in church…but for my kids, it seems that for both of them they screamed for years until one day it was like a light switch…they were ready to socialize. lol.
    As for restaurants, we never take our kids there either….I figure, if I am going to pay a lot of money for my meal, i want to enjoy it. We rarely eat out as it is, so I find because it was such a rare occasion, trying to teach my kids at this age to act in a restaurant was completely forgotten by the time we went again-6 months later or so. lol. My daughter who is 4 could behave if we took her out to eat, but if we have a sitter for one kid, we’re definitely going to leave the other one too! LOL. And because it’s so rare for us to go out to eat, we like to use that as date time! 🙂

  8. Erin December 1, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    Great post Julie. Perhaps if more parents expected more from their children protestors wouldn’t be occupying wall street taking to stake their claim to someone else’s hard earned money… and you know, I think changing our society start one family at a time!

  9. Jenita December 6, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

    Love it Julie, Elaine, and others who have commented that I may know! (Read this through Elaine) I am glad I am NOT the only one who thinks like all of you!!!! WOO HOO! Can we band together?!?! LOL! Seriously! Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one out there! (Okay, well Pete and I…hehee…) We were talking about this the other day…my kids are not perfect and it’s always a work in progress, but they don’t jump on couches at other people’s houses (or my own) or throw things at you when you say “no”. (along with all the same things Julie & Elaine have mentioned)

    Great words Julie! You and Elaine can bring your kiddos over to play anytime and I bet they’d all play well together (at least for a while!hehee…) because we all expect the same things!

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