Children can be frustrated by parental expectations that aren't aligned with God’s expectations. How should parents train their kids "in the way that they should go"?
One of the principles of Intentional Parenting is to recognize that children will usually give you what you expect. The standards that you set are the ones your children will meet. Neglect to set standards, and your children won’t know what you expect. Sometimes, it’s really that simple.
It’s also important to note that understanding the power of expectation means we also have to be careful that the ones we place on our children are realistic and, most importantly, match up to God’s expectations.
Let’s use school as an example, because most parents want their children to excel in scholastics. Remember, you have to know your child. Did his problem-solving ability impress you from an early age? Is he or she a creative thinker? How artistic is your child? While we must always encourage them to do their best, we should not require or expect our children to be able to perform outside of their God-given abilities to meet our parental expectations. Why expect your artistic child to be a math genius when God apparently wired him to be the former?
Many children have been frustrated by parental expectations that don’t match up with God’s. Therefore, your expectations for your child must be defined by God’s expectations. Ephesians 6:4 says Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
While we train our children, we should be paying attention to their bent and how they’re wired. We are to lead them “in the way he should go.” That way is God’s way—with all their positive, innate traits and characteristics already leaning in that direction.
An important component to understanding your child, especially in adolescence, is to understand the culture he lives in. To parent wisely, we must have knowledge and understanding of the world he experiences every day. When Jesus sent His disciples out to do His works, He understood what they would be facing, according to Matthew 10:16, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Part of knowing your child is recognizing what he’s up against on a daily basis. Sometimes, in their own best interests, we must work to remove temptations from our children’s paths.
Knowing your child may be just a little more difficult than you think. Recognizing their favorite food as a baby is a lot easier than knowing whom your child sits with at lunch. It only takes a little research, but it’s the kind of knowledge that can be overlooked—and the kind of information that can give you great insight to what’s going on in your child’s life.
It takes time to know your child. Be sure to take the time!