Jim settled down to go to sleep on the top bunk. Below him Dennis, his younger brother, chuckled over his plan. Dennis begins to yell, “Jimmy stop, that hurts, ow, quit hitting me!” Jim hears steps coming down the hall, he sits up in bed to find his dad standing over him, belt in hand. Before Jim can explain, his father generously applies the belt. Jim fumes as he gets back in bed, Dennis laughs himself to sleep. A week or so later, Jim and Dennis had argued all day over various chores, toys, television, and everything else brothers will fight over. As the oldest, Jim could usually get his way. That night, Dennis revengefully yelled out again, “Ow! Jimmy, I was trying to sleep! Get off me, quit hitting me!” Footsteps again, and again before he could protest, Jim again received the business end of a his father’s belt.
A week or two passed and the brothers had another day of fussing. As they settled into sleep, Dennis began to yell out again, but this time Jim was prepared! As soon as his brother began, yelling, Jim hopped off the top bunk and began hitting his younger brother and continued until his dad came in with the belt. Jim related this story to me as an adult with grown children of his own. Jim said, “I decided that if I was going to receive a whipping from his dad, I might as well deserve it.”
This event makes me wonder, how many times our expectations of our children affect their performance? I sense that expectations have a way of fulfilling themselves. With that said, here are some things we should communicate to our children that we expect of them.
- Expect them to do their best in school. Note that the expectation is to do THEIR best not THE best. Their best would imply that they are making the effort necessary to do their best.
- Expect them to behave their best in school, church, in the homes of others. One parent of grown boys used to tell them to act like they were two years older than they were.
- Expect them as teens to be in control when out with a member of the opposite sex. Let them know there are lines that we do not want them to cross. Let them know how to avoid situations that can make stopping more difficult. Be honest an open talking about matters of sexual conduct.
- Expect them to do their best in sports, band, or any other extra curricular activity they choose to participate in. A strong work ethic learned in these activities will lead them to be better employees and more successful in life.
- Expect them to help around the house. Chores do not violate child labor laws. Chores prepare them to be part of a team and provide a sense of identity within the family. Chores prepare them to be better spouses for their future husband or wife.
- Expect them to respect their mother / father. As a husband, I will not put up with anyone disrespecting my wife, not even my children.
- Expect them to move out and start a life and family of their own. As I heard one wise man say, “Make home comfortable enough they feel safe, but tough enough that they will want to leave one day.”
- Expect them to live for God no matter what they choose to do for income. This is what Joshua expected of his family (Josh 24:15).
That is enough from me. What expectations would you add?
BTW, Jim from our story above said that was the last time Dennis tried that trick.