I just walked past a permanent display at my church on which were the signatures of members who had committed to making themselves “third” in order of importance. My husband’s name jumped out at me, and where was mine? Written in my heart in a private covenant between God and me. Difference in execution… but still a commitment. Is my commitment less effective because I didn’t make it public as expected?
In everything in which we participate, we are asked to meet expectations. I wonder how many of us want everyone to meet our expectations while not really trying to meet others’. I expect parents of students at my school to read the weekly announcement sheet, but I rarely read our church’s newsletter. If we blow off expectations as adults, why are we so surprised when our kids do it?
The key is in the consequences. If parents don’t read the school announcement sheet, they don’t send money with their little darling by the “last day to purchase.” Then their little darling lets them hear about it… sometimes publicly!
I have very high expectations for myself and for my students in school-related activities and lessons. Outside of school events, my expectations for my students are more akin to acceptances. I accept that teens will be interested in a relationship with a significant other. I accept that depression can occur in failure to find that person. I accept that, once found, the two will become inseparable. I don’t expect them to behave differently than I did when their age. The consequence for demonstrating this need to be close (PDA) is a half -a-day suspension. It’s amazing how that shuts down the PDA (public display of affection) in my middle and high schools! I don’t expect the desire to demonstrate PDA, though, to disappear. Instead, I expect the families of the couple to give them time together outside of school… even if it’s supervised… to experience “dating” (within reason, of course!). Another example, if you would: I accept that teens experiment with curse words, but I expect them not to be used while “on the job” (aka: at school and school-related events).
It is not wrong to have high expectations for our kids… especially gifted kids. In fact, I have found that my students thrive because of the high expectations at our school. Too high of expectations, though, and one runs the risk that his children will never feel “good enough.” Too low, and he creates a future “burden on society.” Wow! Parenting is hard! Fortunately, you are not the first parent ever to deal with this. Seek the advice of those who have been through it. You will make mistakes, but with some alternations and adaptations, you will create a thoughtful young person with high expectations himself.