Sitting at a local coffee shop with a woman whose son I had recently met, Lana poured out her heart as we sipped cappuccino. I wasn’t sure why she wanted to speak to me; but as she began to fill in the details, I realized that I was an anomaly in her world.
“Your family is the only one I’ve met with both a mom and dad,” she muttered behind a look of disbelief. And with that, I realized that I had become her “relationship expert”. Yikes!
“Well, at least she had come to at least one right conclusion. Both parents do have an impact on their children,” I thought to myself as she continued to sputter all the sins of her ex-husband.
Having chewed up her ex, she soon launched into the real reason she has asked me to meet her.
“I just don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to get my 15 year old to do what he should be doing!” she blubbered. “At his age, I was on the honor roll in school, playing a sport every season, and working 20 hours a week.” (Translate – expectations!)
“Tom’s grades are awful and he just got suspended from the football team because he wasn’t making it to practice on time. Not only that, but I’ve been trying to get him to look for a part-time job for the last six months. He won’t even try! Getting him to get up on Saturday morning to mow the lawn and do his chores is next to impossible. Without his dad living at home anymore, I have to depend on Tom to help out around the house more. He’s just not pulling his weight. I do everything I can to be his friend and do what he asks me to do, but I just don’t understand …”
I sat frustrated as Lana continued to ramble on, not really wanting any advice. I knew God must have me there for a reason. (I’d sort that out with Him later.) Obviously, she just needed to vent to someone that she thought had it all together. Ha! Guess I didn’t have to share all my parenting shortcomings after all!
After listening for over an hour while attempting to ask questions to help her recognize her unrealistic expectations, I managed to extract myself from this woman’s woes. I laughed at myself as I pulled away in the van, “My expectations for our meeting were obviously out of sync as well. J I thought she wanted some “words of wisdom” and was coming with a heart “willing to listen”. Strike that expectation off the list!!
As I lay awake that night sorting through my conversation with Lana, pouring out my heart to God as to why he wanted me to be her sounding board, a still small voice seemed to speak to me, “You have expectations of your children too, Debbie. Are they realistic? Is anyone in your family bucking the system?”
“Just like Lana wants to be her son’s friend, what kind of expectations do you have of yourself to justify you being a “good” mom?
As I contemplate the expectations I have for my children, I am reminded of Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers (and mothers), do not exasperate your children…” Lord, forgive me. I’ve certainly done that. Sometimes I still do that even though they are now adults!!
But then I realize that the verse goes on, “…instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ah-ha! “God, this is the standard YOU want for me to be a “good” mom!” Lord, how I fail miserably at this.
Bottom Line: No matter what the stage of life for our kids, tweens, teens, or twenty-something, our expectations are usually based on where we were at that age or where we think our friends’ kids are in the journey. Instead of looking back or side-to-side, I encourage you to look into your child’s face with a true desire for relationship wanting to help him discover who God designed him to be.
Dare you to discuss the expectations you are letting go of with your child.
Double dare you to have the discussion over a hot cup of cappuccino or mocha asking your child to hold you accountable for truly letting the expectation go. (Trust me when I say this one will really be hard. You may have to graciously eat humble pie when your child gives you feedback. If you can’t handle the “accountability” part just yet, at least enjoy the cappuccino and mocha!)
Privileged to learn alongside you!
“Let go and let God…”