"Your kids are SO well behaved!" the sweet exhausted-looking mom at the park said to me, "I don't know how you do it, I feel like mine never listen and yours are just falling into line perfectly!"
I smile sweetly at her, and consider offering the truth of how we had a complete meltdown all the way to the park. Exposing the fact that our house was such a disaster we had to get out because I might just lose them in the mess. Instead I just thank her, and agree yes: they are great kids.
And that is the truth. They are great kids. My heart swells with pride when someone points it out.
I expect that from them. We work so hard day in and day out to teach them to behave well. And to be honest, most of the time, it feels pointless. Those endless days where no one listens and we all spend 3/4 of the day in tears. But, sometimes I see that little light at the end of the tunnel, when someone notices.
I find myself expecting SO much from my children. So much. I feel as if I tell them something once, I should never have to remind them again. But the fact of the matter is: they are children. God designed them in a specific and perfect way that they would have to learn from mistakes. They crave discipline and structure. They need us as their parents to direct them and teach them so they can grow to learn to depend on their Heavenly Father.
This can easily become a tough topic. When does expecting a lot from your kids cross the line into expecting TOO much? As moms, we worry ourselves with how to create that perfect balance of of expectations while still allowing them to be little, because after all, they are children!
How can we as moms and followers of Christ create an atmosphere of healthy expectations in our home? Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you consider the expectations you place on your kids:
1) Am I doing it to point them to Jesus, or to make myself look like the best mom of the playgroup? What are your intentions of your expectations?
2) Do my expectations fit THEM? Expectations should grow as they do, and each child is uniquely different in what should be expected.
3) Do I allow them to mess up? If you are constantly fixing and doing everything for them, they don't have room to make mistakes! Think about how many times God lets us mess up when He could easily step in and take over!!
4) Am I setting them up for success? Are you consistent in your expectations? If you are constantly changing what you expect from them, how can they learn?
I've noticed my 3 year old turning more and more into me. I struggle with perfectionism and place expectations for myself way too high. I am type A to the extreme and I don't want to do something unless I can do it perfectly right the first time. As I've started teaching her letters we've been practicing writing. I will write a letter and ask her to copy it next to mine. I just can't get her to do it. She always responds "I can't do it like you Mommy!". I try to explain to her that she will never learn if she doesn't try it, but she just wants it perfect the very first time.
God speaks to me through her every time she is afraid to mess up. I am exactly like this. God will ask me to do something, but I'm too afraid of doing it wrong that I would rather just sit on the sidelines and watch someone else do it. But the truth is, NO ONE can do what He has called me to do the way that I can. Just like my daughter's letter will never look just like mine, it will have it's own curves and look perfectly unquie. But she's so concerned about it being perfectly like mine that she's afraid to even try.
Are you seeking perfection or holiness? Let's not allow ourselves to confuse the two. Perfectionism is self-focused. Holiness is Christ-focused. Perfectionism says, "I'm in control". Holiness says "I surrender to Jesus". Perfectionism seeks approval of men. Holiness stamps you approved under the shed blood of Jesus. Perfectionism is when you try to control every aspect of your lives.
Holiness is something only God can do as we surrender every aspect to Him.
Are your expectations motivated by perfectionism or a desire for holiness? Your kids aren't perfect --- and neither are you! The good news is: Christ died for us so we are new creations. Covered by His perfect grace and made to walk freely in Him! We want to encourage you to create a healthy level of expectation in your home, leave perfection at the door and step into the holiness that comes from God alone. Let that desire for holiness drive your expectations for your home!