Parenting 4

False Expectations

Don’t force your aspirations on your children. Your children are a reflection of you. Don’t delude yourself; the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. If you and your spouse didn’t get all A(s) in school why should your children? Encourage your children to do their best and let them know that their best is good enough.

If all the kids in the school are getting A(s) and B(s), this doesn’t mean that the school is exemplary or that all the children in that school are miraculously superior to the norm. It only means that the grading policies are lax and that the children may be getting falsely inflated egos.

Every child who takes a test doesn’t deserve a good grade. Every child who waddles onto a playing field doesn’t deserve a trophy. Honesty and a dose of competition will serve them much better than false praise. Self-esteem is not an award. Without adult intervention, by age ten, children already know athletic, neat, funny and good looking from lazy, sloppy, boring and sarcastic. They know a real award from a gift. They are already making their own choices.

Children are fortunate and grateful when parents are interested in their schoolwork and extracurricular activates. Children are crippled and appalled by overbearing, helicopter parents who feel compelled to meddle on minutia with every teacher and every coach.

Any child over the age of reason already knows not to walk in front of buses, swallow gasoline, bring weapons to school or jump from tall buildings. They also know not to take drugs, smoke cigarettes, abuse alcohol, speed in cars and engage in pre-marital sex. You don’t have to tell them what they already know a thousand times. That would be easy if it worked. It doesn’t work. What does work is your parental example, your values, your faith, your love and your involvement in their lives. Be there for them. Help them build the self-confidence to resist unwanted peer and societal pressures. Dare to be there for your children.

The average American child will have spent more time watching television before he goes to first grade than he will spend speaking with his father over the course of his entire lifetime. Fifty percent of children have television in their rooms and watch an average of twenty-eight hours of programs each week. Now add in more hours of telephone, video game and Internet time. You’ve got to start very young to help your children become selective in choosing positive activities over idle behavior. There is nothing wrong with a few hours of television or telephone or video games or Internet, but only after chores and homework and reading. Lead your children by example to make the right choices.

Where and from whom are your children learning about good music, art, literature, food and theater? Who is teaching them about the environment and conservation? How are they being introduced to the importance of kindness and generosity? To whom have you entrusted your children’s character development? Teaching values by word and example is a parent’s responsibility. Add your values to this short list.



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