It’s important to get to know our children well, so our expectations of them are realistic. It’s also good to know when to adapt to their needs, and when they are capable of adapting to ours.
When our daughters were 8 and 6 years old, I took them on a mother-daughter retreat. I was frustrated when the girls didn’t want to listen to the speaker. We left after the singing and returned to our room. As we all walked in the beautiful stillness, with the bright stars shining above, all my resentment melted away and I realized that I might have been expecting more of them than they were able to give.
On another occasion at the retreat, Kristy wanted to stay with me rather than go to the age-appropriate classes. I knew from experience that she would enjoy herself once she got involved, so I insisted that she go. She ended up having a good time.
A few days later during the retreat, Kristy was upset over all the ladybugs in the pool. I catered to her for a while and then told her I was going to spend some time with Heather, and if Kristy didn’t want to stay in the water, she could lay on a lounge chair. I knew she was old enough to handle that and I wanted to give Heather some attention. Kristy finally opted to get out of the pool and Heather and I joined her a little later.
On the last day of our retreat, I wanted the camp photographer to take a picture of the three of us to keep as a memory. The girls weren’t interested initially. I had made many sacrifices for them during the week-end and felt it was important for them to learn how to be unselfish, too. We discussed it and they eventually consented. In the end, they appreciated having the photo.
As parents, we need to evaluate our children’s maturity level and capabilities and then establish what our expectations for them are. The sooner they learn the art of compromise in relationships, the happier everyone will be.