We train ourselves not to “compare”, but instead to view our children as individuals who have a particular temperament and rhythm, that when tapped into, makes parenting much more enjoyable.
Summer seems to be a particularly difficult time for many parents, and here is where a strong sense of what’s reasonable and what isn’t helps us navigate our way through some tough decisions.
- Can you reasonably expect your child to mimic that amazing behavior they demonstrate at home when they are on vacation for a week?
- Can you reasonably expect your child to mimic the same structure and routine found during the school year, during the lazy days of summer?
- Can you reasonably expect your child to continue with their daily contributions when the morning runs into the afternoon with no distinction between the two?
- Can you reasonably expect mealtimes to occur on a regular basis, attended by all family members?
- Can you reasonably monitor how much time your kids spend plugged into some form of technology (including the cell phone)?
- Can you reasonably expect your child to “get busy” on their summer reading list as if the assignment was due on Friday when in fact it isn’t due for 2 months?
- Can you reasonably expect your child to sleep at your home 6 nights out of 7 when saying “it’s a school night” isn’t an option?
- Is it reasonable to expect your child to talk as openly and as often with you as they did last year?
- Is it reasonable for a child to “just hang this summer” before they get a job, even if they are already 16?
- Is it reasonable for a new college graduate to know exactly what they will be doing with their life simply because they received another diploma?
The truth is, we all have expectations. And most of our expectations are built on the dreams we have of what life “could” look like, if our kids followed the well thought out plans of their parents. But as we all come to realize (some earlier than others) is, that kids are “creating” their lives as they go along. For them, there is no grand scheme of things. There is today. And sometimes the expectations they have for themselves and of the world, are more relevant and realistic than their parents.
This summer, take some time to re-establish a clear set of expectations for yourself. Leave your kids alone for a few weeks or months and concentrate instead on you. Challenge some basic assumptions you have about kids, the world, work, love, technology, education, faith, friendship, sexuality. Challenge the idea that all you want is “what’s best for your kids” and how that seemingly simple line can wreak havoc on a budding and fragile adolescent personality. Challenge yourself to decide for yourself what expectations need a bit of updating, which ones need a solid kick out the door, and which ones support both a beautiful relationship with your child and their ability to grow into confident and independent people.
Here is my one, over arching expectation for myself, which as it turns out, has been communicated clearly enough to my kids, that the think it’s the same for them – which maybe isn’t such a bad thing
My expectation is this:
That I show up in my own life with a willingness to do whatever it takes to make the most out of each encounter and each opportunity presented to me, so that at the end of the day, I can safely say – this was a day well lived.