Moms can have unreasonable and unrealistic expectations of their children’s mental, physical, spiritual and emotional abilities.
We don’t understand the training concept. We think we can make a rule, explain in well, instruct them in the benefits of the rule, discipline for breaking the rule, and after a few trial runs, we will have total compliance.
Unfortunately, this is not the case.
There isn’t a “3 Strikes Yer’ Out” rule with children.
The reality is, sometimes they don’t hear you. Sometimes, they don’t listen. Sometimes, they don’t remember. Sometimes, they don’t understand. Sometimes, they don’t have the ability to comply. Sometimes, other fears, sins or concerns are overshadowing their ability to be concentrated fully on the task at hand. Sometimes, they are battling besetting sin. Sometimes, they are just selfish. Sometimes, they are just distracted. Sometimes, they are enjoying life so much they don’t think of anything else. Sometimes, they are angry. Sometimes, they are sick. Sometimes, they are worried.
There are a bajillion reasons why you have to tell them things a bajillion times. Not a bajillion excuses, I teach my children that there is no excuse for sin, but there are a bajillion reasons why they won’t or can’t obey.
Each reason becomes another reason to continue to teach, instruct and discipline.
Example, “I know you don’t feel good, honey, but that doesn’t mean you can yell at your sister. You still need to choose to be nice.”
I am in no way inciting you to lower your standards. I abhor spiritual compromise, especially in parenting. I am not saying achieving your home goals is impossible, so give up.
I am saying, have reasonable and realistic expectations in life. Your goals are not their goals. They are kids. They see no purpose in putting away toys they are going to play with later, sweeping the floor they are going to track new mud on or flushing the toilet that sister is going to use later. They are lost in our world of rules and expectations and cannot fathom our reasoning until years later.
* Kids will mess up your house every day, all day.
* Children don’t all successfully, consistently flush the toilet until they are in double digits.
*They will whine. The more people in the radar range, the whinier they could be.
*They will hit, bite, pinch, trip, name-call, push and scratch.
* They will misbehave in public.
*If you cherish it, they will probably break it or lose it.
* If you need it, you won’t find it, and they won’t remember where they put it.
*They won’t make their bed, pick up their coat, put away their shoes or do their daily chores consistently, even though you have told them a bajillion times. Or even a kajillion times.
I could make this list a lot longer, but don’t want to depress you with an older mom’s honesty. I just want to encourage you to understand reality, so instead of being surprised, which can lead to frustration, which fuels anger, you are ready for real life as a parent.
For example: Your goal is to teach your children to put away their belongings after each use so you can maintain a reasonably clean home. Great goal. Great aspiration.
Your reality is you might be doing this the entire time your children are in your home. Understand this. Expect this. Parent this way, continually teaching, explaining, reminding, but knowing you will have to repeat some lessons
This. is. real. parenting. life.
I am not saying you need to want your children to fail or that you don’t have high aspirations and prayers for them to be godly, Christians who contribute to their families, their church and society. I am opening your eyes to the reality that failure is going to happen, and you need to have a ready heart.
Have a plan of attack.
What do you desire for your children in areas of grooming, personal diligence, spiritual diligence, manners, work ethic, etc.? Have specific goals that are clearly made known to Trainer and Trainee.
Make sure your goals are in line with their abilities. Pray for wisdom and discernment.
Do your kids know that you want to do everything to please the Lord?
Romans 12:1, “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”
He died for us, we live for Him. We do dishes for Him, we make our beds for Him, and as we get older He will give us more spiritual responsibilities. We need to be faithful in little.
I heard a gifted Bible teacher and counselor once say his first job as a young man was straightening the rows of chairs at their Chapel. He said, “The Lord knew I would need a lot of practice for some day straightening out lives.”
Like Samuel in the Temple, our little ones have opportunities to be of some reasonable service to those around them, for the glory and honor of the Lord.
Expect to have to say EVERY MORNING, “Get up, get dressed, make your bed.” This is called our Morning Rule, because I have said it almost every school morning for more years of homeschooling than I want to talk about right now. Do you know, after 22 years, I am STILL reminding children to make their beds?
Do you know, some mornings I still forget, or decide not to, make my bed? If I have to remind myself, I guess I still have to remind them.
Expect to walk into your home and remind them to hang up their coats. It’s OK to remind them, you haven’t failed as a mother if the 443rd instruction hasn’t taken root in their lives, you fail when you get angry or when you STOP instructing on desired behavior.
Do not give up!
Praise is a great fertilizer for repeat performances, along with thankfulness. Yes, we have the right to expect them to remember to hang up their coat, but we can still praise the unprompted action. We can still let them know how they help the family out when they remember to take out the overflowing garbage without prompting.
Someday, all your kids will flush the toilet.
Someday, they will have loving relationships with one another.
Someday, your kids will be managing their own homes in a way you never thought capable, because they didn’t practice those things in your home.
Someday, your kids will be walking with the Lord and your heart will be rejoicing for the adults they are, but missing the children they were.
Someday, you will be encouraging younger women to Keep on Keeping On.
These are reasonable and realistic expectations if you don’t have unreasonable and unrealistic expectations.