Great Expectations

What are your expectations of your spouse or children at home? You might be a little puzzled by this question, so let me explain. We all have preconceived notions of how we want our family to contribute to caring for our homes. Most of us want a little help, but we have to honestly ask ourselves:

  • Am I only satisfied when it is done exactly the way I want?
  • Do I tend to send mixed messages by my negative reactions to their help?

Here is a familiar example: Loading the dishwasher.
You may have the perfect way to load and yet your spouse or child doesn’t follow your lead. So… you rearrange and reload! This sends a direct message to your family to find something else to do when it is time to load the dishwasher. It is true that things should be done well, but remember — doing things well doesn’t necessarily mean doing them perfectly all the time. What counts is that the dishes get clean. It is always more important to let others contribute than to have everything done just perfectly. It is good for them and it is good for you!

When children have responsibilities at home they will be better prepared for their future lives. Does allowing things like the “less than perfect loading” mean that we ignore poor household work? Not at all! We are all concerned when our child has a problem with a subject in school. We do everything we can to help her improve. We take things in stages so she begins to understand.

We can follow the same principle when teaching them household responsibilities. We can’t assume that our children are going to learn to make a bed, or dust or hang up clothes properly unless we are willing to teach and coach them until they catch on. Often we make the mistake of thinking that children learn by osmosis and we expect much more of them “from the get go.” It is true that some children will learn by observation but most do not. It takes time and patience that will pay off in the long run.

Remember it is great to read with children, to play with them, but it is also great to work with them. Young children love to do most things with their parents, so take advantage of that while you can and help them to learn skills that will last a lifetime! They may eventually exceed your own expectations!

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