Give the gift of … HIGH EXPECTATIONS!
I know, I know… just trust me. It may not elicit the same shriek of delight as cold hard cash does but gifting others high expectations now, will bring a wealth of good things later.
We are in a bit of a pickle. We aren’t collectively known for work ethic, excellence in details, or grit. But not being known for something is not the same as not being capable of something. There are some real go getters in this generation, some show-er uppers and hanger on-ers who have real fight in them. And let me tell you what, they hate being lumped into huge generalizations based on lowest common denominators.
In fact, this next generation will be the one to watch. They may be a whole lot like the Greatest Generation of days and wars past… with a little help and a lot of high expectations. Orrr… they could drift into oblivion with the world worse for it.
Here’s the part you need to chew on. Generations are MADE by the circumstances and norms they are born into. So, all of the frustrating things you see in this collective group? Some of that needs to land at our feet. This is not the world young people created, it’s the world they inherited.
They didn’t invent cellphones or social media… they were given them. They didn’t invent the extreme cultural revolution… they were born into it. The personality of a Generation… like the Greatest Generation, Boomers, Gen Z and Millenials… just like the personality of a child, is shaped by the world they grow up in, a world created by generations preceding.
I see it every day. The world we have given to our kids is heartbreaking, a mess of decaying morality and motivation. The hard lines we shied away from have left zero line or boundary for them. The things we tolerated; they are now forced to celebrate. What an impossible situation to be in. We were too busy to teach good, hard lessons… and now we are exasperated and disappointed when they don’t know the thing we DID NOT TEACH.
You think you’re frustrated with low motivation? Try being the person who knows no one expects great things from them. We caved and we caved early. Whether it was inconvenience or time management, we quit having high expectations at home and holding our family to them. Battles we didn’t want to fight over chores or grades, or things we were trying to do differently from our family of origin, there’s any number of reasons. One of the reasons I see most is this, parents who are scared to death of losing their kids as they grow up, so they create an environment free of struggle, free of conflict… forgetting that it is the failures and fights that draw out grit and determination.
As dangerous and detrimental to adulthood as low expectations, is high expectations in the WRONG arena. We will drive kids all over creation and give entire family schedules to pitching coaches, practices, performances… cultivating a talent but not necessarily transferable tenacity. What happens when it’s off-season, or the season ends for good? Do they flounder or stand firm? Make sure they are getting ALL of the benefits of their hobbies and able to apply the good stuff to other stuff.
Here’s the good news: what an incredible opportunity we have now!! It’s not too late! You can turn this thing around starting today!! And you can start with high expectations. Throw out lofty goals, find hard things for your family to do together, learn a new skill, be willing to be stretched and uncomfortable as a team.
One year we took our kids skiing knowing full well our “achiever” son would hate the first few hours of not being an automatic expert. And, then we went down every hill with him, side by side in his struggle as he got mad, cold, and frustrated with every fall. My word. It was fun for no one!! But you help up, find the poles, put the skis back on, restate the same lesson you have said a thousand times…”Snow plow! Plow! Lean! Shift!” Over and over until it’s fun dang it!!
Hey Salty Friends, don’t let your family come down from the mountain before the mountain has its full measure of good.
Having high expectations guarantees frustration while acquiring a skill and the productive struggle of perfecting it. I get it. But you have never seen anything more life giving than the kid who once struggled, then succeeds. It changes them. It gives confidence and boldness that watching from the bottom of the hill just does not.
Have high expectations for your family. Even in their chores, teach them proper ways and then have them redo and refold until it’s done properly. Have high expectations for their education, there’s only so much a teacher or school can do when a kid knows their parents only expect a 70. Have high expectations for their friendships and relationships. “Hey, I noticed how you and ______ talk to each other. Not okay. Either resolve it and treat each other better or find a new friend, but our expectation is HEALTHY HOLY friendships for you and your buddies–not AVAILABLE BUT ANTAGONISTIC.”
Give your family the gift of high expectations this year, in the areas that matter most… character, core values, culture, social… SPIRITUAL. It is the gift that keeps on giving.