How many times have you sat at a sporting event for one of your kids and been disappointed that your kid was checking out the pretty butterfly instead of scoring the winning goal? How many awards assemblies have you sat at watching child after child pick up academic award after academic award while your child is there for perfect attendance?
The world today is full of competition and comparison. I think Instagram and Facebook make it very difficult to appreciate the lives we have, the children we have and the spouses we have. We're bombarded with the daily accomplishments of other people in our lives. No one is posting that they haven't managed to get a shower yet today and their house is covered in a 2-inch-thick layer of dust. No one posts pictures of the days when every kid in the house is crying because you lost your temper. No one is bragging about how their kid tripped over the base and cost their team the winning run.
And it is so, so easy for us and our kids to get caught up in the comparison trap. It is so, so easy to raise the bar on our expectations for our kids to a level that they were never designed to meet.
My kids are both athletes. They are fairly decent at the sports they play. But you know what? My younger daughter can't draw a stick figure, and her handwriting is terrible. My older daughter struggles to spell words correctly and can't cut a straight line with a pair of scissors to save her life.
God created me and my kids different from the way He created you and your kids. He gave us different gifts and talents than He gave the members of your family.
When we place expectations on our kids that aren't realistic for their gifts and talents, we tell them that we aren't satisfied with the way God made them. We tell them that we don't appreciate the gifts and talents they do have. We tell them that they simply aren't good enough.
It would be ridiculous for me to expect my older daughter to win the spelling bee or for my younger daughter to win an art competition. Those are unrealistic expectations. But sometimes we as parents get so caught up in being able to say "My kid is the best" that we forget that not every kid has to be the best. They simple have to be their best.
So, here's a list of the five things we expect from our kids. These are expectations that teach work ethic and respect. They are not targeted at being better than everyone else. They are simply aimed at making our kids the best they can be so they can do the work God intended for them.
1. Give 100% to everything you do. Live out the words of Colossians 3:23. What you do is a reflection of your love for God.
2. Be respectful of everyone. Practice the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12.
3. Ask for help when you need it. We can't all be good at everything. Not asking for help is a sign of being prideful, and pride is destructive (Proverbs 16:18).
4. Offer help when it's needed. God gave you gifts and talents to use for Him. If someone else needs your help, offer it and give it cheerfully.
5. Remember your gifts and talents come from God. Give Him the glory when things go well and seek His guidance when things don't go your way.
Our kids need to know that we appreciate who they are. They need to know that we don't expect them to excel at everything. But they also need to know that we do have expectations of them -- ones that they can meet no matter what their gifts or talents are.
Because being the best isn't the goal. Being their best is.
Don’t forget to check out my new book Everyday Truth: Teaching your kids about God during life’s everyday moments. Available in paperback at Amazon.com.