bits from bob....

Expectations and Parenting

by Robert J. Young
©, 2001, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

A world seeking meaningful relationships and purposeful lives has found alienation and isolation. Individuals seeking understanding are losing their way because the foundations of knowledge are shifting. Children do not understand parents; parents do not understand children; at the root of the problem is that humans do not understand God. Parents cut loose from the absolute, objective truth of God word, and raised with the Spockian influence that loosed the rigidity of parental control, face a difficulty dilemma concerning discipline, freedom, and restrictions for their own children.

In an article in Today's Child, Dr. Fredrick Green of George Washington University says inconsistent parental expectations confuse children as most parents expect too much of young children and too little of teens. Such children are caught between unrealistically high short-term expectations and insultingly low long-term expectations for achievement and maturation. Our "instant" society overvalues the present, and too often sacrifices the future for present gratification and desires.

Green asserts that inexperienced, uninformed parents tend to expect too much in areas of good habits, obedience, and understanding of right and wrong from children developmentally incapable of meeting such demands. Much child abuse can be traced to these high expectations, and in countless other cases pressured children have low self-confidence and fail to work up to potential. Parental frustrations that lead to physical violence and emotionally underdeveloped children focus the need for better education in the challenges of raising children. The church can fill a vital need here in pointing parents to biblical examples of families. The immediate benefit will be apparent, and the church of the future will be healthier. Short-term expectations must be appropriate to child age and development.

At the other end of the spectrum, older children suffer from lack of parental expectations. Whereas parents formerly expressed confidence in the ability of their children to contribute to society, many parents now express the holy only that their children will "stay out of trouble." This reinforcement of a negative goal does not challenges teens to make a positive impact. Even more acutely in turbulent times do teens need a strong assurance of parents' faith and interest, yet many parents back off and abandon children to the influence of the peer group. Parents must back children with high long-term expectations.

The challenge of Solomon is as great today as ever: "Train up a child in the way he should go...." May God help us build strong families and godly lives upon the foundation of this word.

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Last updated November 28, 2001.