21 February 2010

On the setting of standards and the adjusting of expectations

Standards for children and their behavior ought to be high—even impossibly high, as are the standards to which their parents are accountable.

I am, however, only fooling and frustrating myself when I expect seamlessly harmonious days. (Which, ridiculously enough, I still sometimes catch myself expecting: He’s old enough to know better…Do I really have to remind him again to be kind to his brother …Haven’t we learned to share by now…Can’t we even get through devotions without disciplinary interruptions, for heaven’s sake?!...)

In the name of the...would you please just move away from your brother already?!

No matter the standards, no matter how devout and diligent the parents, there will be a certain amount of crying and fighting. There just will be. There will be tantrums and whining and egregious self-centeredness committed on a daily basis by several if not all household members.* No matter how difficult that is for me to accept, no matter how much I wish it otherwise—that’s life in a household full of sinners whose varying developmental stages only add to the potential for mayhem.

Adjusting my expectations doesn’t mean lowering the standards or expecting less of my kids. Adjusting my expectations does mean reminding myself that the daily drowning is indeed daily, and that the flailing limbs of all the gasping and spluttering Old Adams in this house will inevitably collide in the struggle. Adjusting my expectations means lifting high the Standard while humbling myself and my perfect-Christian-family delusions. And in the process, with desperate gratefulness for the mercies that are new every morning, and continued prayers for my daily bread of the blessed grace of humor, I may yet find that a semblance of sanity is attainable.

*If anyone has found a way around this, please let me know. :P


Gauntlets said...

There are so many great lines is this post, I'm going to print it out and post it by the kitchen sink.

". . . the flailing limbs of all the gasping and spluttering Old Adams in this house will inevitably collide in the struggle." = the very image I needed.

Bikermom said...

Everyone should post something like this by their kitchen sink and perhaps on the wall at church as being crushed by each others weaknesses seems a hard subject to admit happens and hard for some to tolerate in others. We do LOTS of flailing around here and it is refreshing to see someone else write so eloquently admitting that this sort of thing happens in their home and not being ashamed to say it. It is not being negative, it is giving yourself an honest reality check so you can better love each other knowing we are ALL in the same boat and will not be perfect. Hope that makes sense. Thank you for posting.

Rebekah said...

>>my perfect-Christian-family delusions


Untamed Shrew said...

"There will be a certain amount of crying and fighting."

yeah. It's that "certain amount" that's the rub. Here, it's constant (almost). Currently the baby is asleep and the preschooler is anesthetized by TV, so I'm going to leave it that way.

L. R. Jensen said...

Funny how your insights on Christian family life shed new light on church family life... And the flailing explains why I'm always so exhausted:)

Reb. Mary said...

Shrew, it's indeed the "certain amount" that can get a girl down.

LRJ, too true, on both counts!

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Experience has shown me that living as Christians in a large and extended family provides a paideia that no other institution can replace. From the youngest to the oldest, from the newborn grandchild to the aged grandparent, and from cousins to in-laws, the more we all collide, the more every member of the Christian family continues to grow every day in faith, wisdom, and love - and in repentance for the lack of faith, wisdom, and love such a crucible of life reveals daily in each of us.

This observation and experience, which has intensified over the past ten years of my life, may explain why I have gone from being an educational entrepreneur and desiring to move my family to greener pastures where the external culture at least appears better, to being a homeschool advocate who desires nothing more than for his children and grandchildren to marry fellow believers and settle down near one another, where they can contribute and partake of the blessed heat generated in this crucible of the extended Christian family living under the cross in the forgiveness of Christ.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

P.S. If you have any thoughts on this, please come over to L&P where I made this comment into a new post.