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Expectations and Cheering Your Kids On – Chrys Howard
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Expectations and Cheering Your Kids On

Expectations and Cheering Your Kids On

Many years ago, I came across an article on this subject and used it for a radio show. I decided to give it a second look and update the information. My granddaughter, Sadie, recently posted on her social media about expectations, so that let me know it’s still a relevant topic. 

All of us have expectations. It’s normal to expect certain things out of certain circumstances. When we birth children, we have a set of expectations for those children and, to some degree, that is okay. But moms and dads must be very mindful as the children they give birth to might not be the ones capable of meeting those expectations. Most often, it’s more than we could ask or imagine, but it’s rarely the same. That dad who longed for a baseball player might get a worship leader. That mom who couldn’t wait to dress her girlie-girl might find herself cheering on a volleyball player. It’s all good, but it’s not always what we expect.

It doesn’t take long in the life of a child for those around the child to recognize differences. Even twins are not the same person and parents are wise not to raise them as if they are. Each person is created unique and have what used to be referred to as “bents.” I’m guessing the word “bent” came from how a tree bends toward different directions. A child or person will have different ways they are “bent.” They each have their own set of skills, talents, likes and dislikes. As parents, it’s our job to recognize these “bents” and point children in the right direction. It’s not our job to bent them the way we imagined. If done correctly, that child can carry on as the wind in their sails is supported, encouraged, and directed, or redirected, when necessary and they will live up to their God-given potential. 

What are some things you can do as a parent to cheer your child on and lead him/her in the right direction?

  1. See The Potential 

The story of Helen Keller, blind and deaf from age nineteen months, and her teacher Ann Sullivan, just twenty years old, come to mind. Ann Sullivan saw what many others couldn’t see and that was potential. This is a quality everyone has. Not everyone can sing, play the guitar, or throw a football, but everyone has potential. The bible tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom, stature and in favor with God and man. So, Jesus progressed in his life in four areas: mental, physical, spiritual, and social. While we know spiritual growth is the most important, the details of Jesus’ life tell us all are important. 

Take time to pay attention to what you see in your children. Pray over them and ask God to give insight into how their gifts and abilities can be developed and used to bring God glory.  

  1. Offer Opportunities for Growth

It’s important to encourage children to try a variety of things to allow them to see what really interest them. Our job isn’t to overload them with a heavy schedule, but rather let them “test” different areas of interest. We often, especially in the south, think this means sports. I love sports, but there is more to life than sports. Life is full of art and service to others and good books, etc. There is nothing wasted when exposing a child to something new. It may be just the thing that speaks to the heart of that child.

Do not be in a rush to show your kids everything. Don’t move out of fear that your children will be left behind.  The truth is many children will do better at a later age because they are more developed. Just relax. Open the doors and see what door they want to walk thought. 

I will say here, some children need a little more of a push to “join in” on something new. Again, you know your children. Give the push to those who need it and back off for those who don’t need it. 

  1. Set Realistic Goals

While I firmly believe in not overloading a child with tons to do, we don’t want our kids to move through life without direction, preparation, or purpose.  They need goals, as well as plans and strategies for fulfilling those goals. 

A good coach might say, “Run your best and keep your eyes on the finish line”. The writer of Hebrews, Paul, said, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our Faith.”

       Both the coach and Paul knew the importance of setting goals and working hard to         

       attain that goal. 

     Having “service to Jesus” as our first and foremost goal, we will more easily stay focused       

     and on track for all the other goals we deem important in our children’s lives. It has been   

     said that “Goals give you the specific direction to make your dreams come true.” God’s 

     word says it this way, “Train up a Child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he 

     will not turn from it.” When you and your child work together (think age appropriate) to 

     plan goals and talk through strategies to reach them, they are more likely to feel 

    “encouraged’ as opposed to feeling “pressured” to perform. Help them see the importance 

     of “goal setting” and, just as important, teach then what “follow though” means to 

     achieving their set goals. 

4.  Support Their Endeavors

There was a study done to determine the correlation between an athlete’s                           performance and the presence of family members in the audience.  The                          evidence showed that those who had family members watching from the sidelines were more likely to perform at a higher level than those who had no one cheering them on. That is a very important observation and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. While no parent can drop everything and be at everything our children do, we should do our best to be there when possible. 

             

But it’s not only about “being there” physically, it’s just as important for our kids to know we support them even when we can’t be there. We’re not there every time they take a test or play on the playground at school or encounter a new friendship. In fact, it’s a good thing for us to “not be there” at every turn of their life. Still our children should have that secure feeling that we are supporting them all the time whether we are with them or miles away. Our words and actions should reflect this as we encourage them, say prayers, listen to concerns, send them off to school. The words we use, our actions toward them, and the looks we give can all tell a person that I am for you, no matter what. Win, lose or draw, you should be your child’s biggest fan! For children to succeed in life they must know your love for them is unconditional. No winning ballgame or highest grade or top honor will “make” you love them anymore than you already do. This has nothing to do with lowering expectations and everything to do with unconditional love. Philippians 3:12-13 says, “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Never let a child’s past mistakes keep you from being their biggest fan. Always look forward to what is ahead. The rest of the book hasn’t been written yet. 

Hugs, Chrys

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