Expectations – To Have or Not to Have
Have you heard, “Be careful not to have too high of expectations for your children because you don’t want to put too much pressure on them or they will rebel”???
Or testimonies from MKs and PKs (missionary/pastor), who talk about how much pressure was in their homes to “perform.” When I was in University a few of my friends were MKs and PKs. They all had similar stories and complaints about growing up under “pressure.” Except one good friend. Melanie. She was a pastor’s daughter. She was an off campus commuter who was in some of my psych classes. Melanie had a deep relationship with her parents. She never talked begrudgingly about them, she always showed them respect when I was at her house, and when the other MKs and PKs would talk about the pressures they grew up with, she was always politely quiet. As if she herself couldn’t relate. I never took the opportunity to ask her why or if she felt the same way. She just went on being a “good girl,” living at home with her parents and sharing light and love through her joy~filled smile.
Even though we are not in full~time ministry, Isaac and I have always tended to have high expectations of ourselves. We have always viewed ourselves as “Missionaries wherever God puts us.” That being said, I wonder, will our children have similar feelings about us having too high of expectations of them?
I don’t want my kids to “perform.”
I don’t want them to feel like those other kids did. So I wonder, what did her parents do? They didn’t shy away from teaching truth, teaching, discipline, setting boundaries or expectations. I wonder if what it comes down to is relationship and talking about this issue… talking about expectations. While we should be very careful not to expect perfection, because perfection this side of Heaven simply doesn’t exist, still what kind of expectations are ok? If we do hold to some standard of right and wrong, within our family unit, then there are expectations. We all have them, every family has expectations. Where there are expectations, there is the potential for disappointment, since expectations can always be unfulfilled. So does that mean we throw all expectations out the window? Our culture teaches we should. Have you ever heard, “let kids be kids.” Or “Don’t discipline them, they are just discovering or learning their limitations. Don’t discipline, you will limit their creativity.”
I just about cringe at this statement now. What they are saying, is don’t hold your children to any expectations or standards. If you don’t have any, you won’t have any reason to correct or discipline.
It’s like they are giving kids an excuse to be irresponsible. Sometimes an excuse for down right sin, in forms of disrespect, disobedience or defiance; saying, “all kids are like that, it’s normal.” Well yes, of course all kids are like that when they haven’t been taught any different. The Bible teaches we are all born with a sinful heart.
While I am still figuring out this solution (obviously since my kids are still growing). I do think that we can uphold biblical expectations while giving grace and exercising our forgiveness muscle. My gut tells me relationship, communication, and love are key to holding to standards while still exercising grace.
Making sure our kids know that our love isn’t based on whether they perform or not.
Just as God’s love for us is not based upon our performance, neither should ours be for our children. We just need to teach that and then model it by the way we approach sin. Approach it in love and deep concern for where their heart and soul is in relation to God.
As we are intentionally leading them to Jesus in prayer and study of the word,and by the way we live out our faith day by day, we can rest in the assurance that He is the one who alone can change hearts. We parents can not. Once they personally pursue an intimate relationship with him, they will be compelled to love Him and follow him. Their actions are then the fruit of their relationship with Christ and the conviction to serve Him through obedience.
Obedience is one of the fruits from their relationship with Jesus. So what should we then be focused on as we sit, as we walk, as we lie, as we garden, as we eat, as we do laundry and clean floors? We need to focus on how Great God is. How thankful we are for Him, how different our lives would be without Him. Focusing on teaching the truth of the word, and living out worship in our lives every day all day. Praying more than just at meals, as if it were required, but from a heart deeply craving time talking with Jesus.
If we focus on Jesus, we don’t need to focus on expectations. The more we are in the Word of God, the more our hearts are transformed, the more our children’s hearts will be drawn towards ours and the Lord’s. The more they are drawn to the Father in Heaven, the less of a need there will be for discipline. We need to focus less on the right or wronf things our children are doing, and more on where their hearts for God and desiring Him are.
When their heart desires the fruit of the Spirit and isn’t focused on selfish ambitions or motives. Leading them to the Cross means we need to be on our way their ourselves. Letting them come along.
Let’s focus with our children on the Savior!
Let’s pray with them, pray over them, worship with them. Be intentional about helping them to experience God by simply allowing them to be beside you as you Experience Him.