Excerpt: Expecting too much

Published by Lori Pickert on November 20, 2008 at 01:43 AM

Why Can’t Johnny Jump Tall Buildings? Parents Expect Way Too Much from their Kids, Slate:

“[T]he trick in each case is to find the individual child’s sweet spot, the point between too little and too much expectation.

The good news is that you’re the world’s leading expert on your child, the one person in creation best equipped to find that sweet spot. Just remember, as you go about it, that it’s only human for parents to tend to expect that our children can do more than they can really do. Even slight adjustments of your expectations to compensate for that tendency — a little more emphasis on shaping, a little more patience, a little reflection on what’s really important to you as a parent and what behaviors can be left to disappear or develop on their own — can produce surprisingly excellent results.”


Comment by Alison on November 20, 2008 at 04:59 AM

Yes, you make a good point. Most often we need to cut ourselves some slack (we need to be patient and understanding with our imperfections) as well as our kids. I've noticed that my expectations of my second born are a LOT more reasonable. Could be why grandparents have such wisdom!

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 20, 2008 at 04:55 PM

it’s not my point, it’s the Slate author’s point -- sorry if that’s not clear! ;^) did you click over and read more of the article? i thought it was interesting.

re: more reasonable expectations for the 2nd (and after) child .. so true! i wonder if that’s born of our increasing parental wisdom or just tiredness. :^P

Comment by laeroport on November 20, 2008 at 05:28 PM

Oh, Lori! This series of posts have been very timely in our lives and have given me much to ponder. In a nutshell, my very clever and creative daughter has been running with the off-the-chart smart kids and felt herself lacking. I know all too well what she is going through, having been there myself, although slightly older.... Gah!
She's thinking about a project she'd like to undertake at home, and I'm trying not to expect too much....

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 20, 2008 at 05:52 PM

oh, i want to hear about her project if she starts one. how old is your daughter? xo

Comment by Amy-Domestic An... on November 20, 2008 at 10:16 PM

I may be his expert (and yes, I often am), but one thing that has surprises me time and time again is how much I learn about him from some of the other parents who know him well and are good friends to us, or from my husband, who spends a lot of alone time parenting him, too. They will share an observation that opens up a whole new way of seeing him for me, and I have come to really value their perspective. This helps me keep things even as far as seeing him for who he is - as his own expert, on himself, and keeping my expectations honest.
Is it more of an issue of expectations of ourselves as parents, or of our kids?

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 20, 2008 at 11:48 PM

i think it’s both, don’t you? after all, our idea of ourselves is tied up in our children .. how can we be successful parents if they aren’t successful?

“If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.” — Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

i like this quote from the slate article: “[I]t's natural to underestimate the astonishing variability among and within individuals”

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