When a woman is pregnant, one way people refer to her condition is to say she is “expecting.” I’ve personally experienced this kind of “expectancy” seven times. While all my “expectations” didn’t turn out the way I had hoped, I do have four precious children that I simply adore! And though the losses were difficult, to say the least, I’m eternally grateful for those expectations that DID turn out as hoped! My childbearing is behind me, but my “expectancy” is still going strong and that is what I would like to share about in today’s Lifestyle post. You see, I believe motherhood is an ongoing exercise in expectation.
Early on in my days as a mother, I read in a parenting book that children will most often rise, or fall, to your expectations of them and I have found this to be true. In many ways, this is akin to “self-fulfilling prophecy”.
Example: you are having your second child and wondering how your first is going to react. You want your new baby to be loved by your “old baby” and vice versa. You worry about your oldest feeling left out or jealous of the new baby and ironically, you subconsciously plant the very seeds of rivalry you intend to prevent by watching for the first signs of jealousy or rivalry. Your toddler senses this apprehension, responds in his insecurity and sets out on the path to war…okay, maybe not war, but you get the idea! Then, because you’re expecting rivalry, you overreact to the smallest, possible sign of it and drive a wedge between your children in response to a moment where, in reality, your toddler acted out due to being tired or hungry! If you EXPECT your kids to be jealous and fight, I guarantee you that is what will happen.
However, it works the other way too! I knew from the start that we didn’t have to put up with strife and division in our children because my sister and I grew up as best friends. That is not to say we saw eye to eye on everything or that we never got into arguments and scuffles. We certainly did! But more than anything, we loved each other and wanted to be together and help each other out. I had first hand knowledge that sibling rivalry is simply NOT inevitable! I EXPECTED that we would not have it in our home because our children would be shown that they were individually valuable and that together we are even better.
Today my kids range in age from 3 to 13 and they adore each other. They all get along and know they don’t have to fight for Mom and Dad’s love or fair treatment. They certainly fuss and have their moments, but for the most part, they genuinely love each other and get along so well. That makes a momma truly happy! Psalm 133 says
“Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!”
(and all the moms said AMEN!)
It is true that things don’t always work out according to our expectations and parenthood is no exception. This isn’t a magic formula to turn your child into the next Bill Gates. However, I do believe that the more positive expectations you have, the more momentum you build towards seeing positive outcomes in your life and theirs. The Bible says that “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he”. Well, if you are thinking along positive, problem SOLVING lines instead of negative problem EXPECTING ones, you’re going to live a POSITIVE, overcoming life.
This is true in all areas of life, but specifically in motherhood, I want to encourage you to expect the best of your kids. Expect them to be able to accomplish what they need to. Expect them to have good attitudes and obey. They will quickly learn your expectations and assess how consistent you are with holding them to what you tell them you expect and if the two line up, you will find your children do as well.
If there’s an area in your child’s behavior you are concerned about, I encourage you first pray and ask God to help you expect His best for them. He will show you what that means for your individual child. Then let them know your expectations along with age appropriate reasons why, give them clear, achievable instruction, opportunities to practice, positive reinforcements and appropriate consequences as needed. If you stay the course through this process, I believe you will be amazed as you see them rise to meet those expectations!