Sunday, February 20, 2011

Establishing Expectations for Your Family Culture

I believe you can have exactly the kind of family that you imagine.

I believe you will have exactly the kind of family that you expect.

In readying ourselves for baby number two, I have talked with so many people who have warned me about inevitable sibling rivalry.  It always goes something like:  "Yeah just be ready for those two to get into it.  That's just how it is with kids."

But is that just how it is?  Or is it how it is because those are the expectations of our children that we hold as parents?

I firmly believe the latter.  If I expect that sibling rivalry will be a normal part of the culture of my family, then it will be.  I expect that it is normal, so I will allow it in my home.  But what if my expectation is different?  What if I expect a culture of kindness and respect among my sons and daughters, and what if I expect my marriage to be a model of that for my children?  My actions, decisions and directives will all stem from what I expect my family to be about.  If I expect no sibling rivalry, then I will work hard to keep those attitudes out of my home.

What about the "terrible twos?"  If I expect the terrible twos to flood my home because "it's just a phase," then they will.  But if I expect my children to learn how to manage their frustrations, then I will become a focused guide for them in that education, and they will learn, even at such a young age, that a bad attitude is not a part of our family culture.

What about obedience?  If I expect my children to obey after I count to three, then they will.  And I will constantly be counting to three because they will learn that that's their cue to obey... and no sooner will they do it.  But if I expect my children to obey the first time, every time, then they will, because I will take actions in my home to turn those expectations into realities.

The culture of your family can be whatever you want it to be.  And you are creating that culture within every expectation you have of the way things are "supposed to be" in your family.  You, the parent, have the God-given authority in your home to create an atmosphere of love, kindness, servitude, gratitude, patience, respect, and anything else you desire... if you expect that as the norm.

The kids do not determine the culture of the family.  You do.  And whatever the culture of your family is, it is what you have made it, knowingly or not.  And whatever the culture of your family will be in the future, it is what you will make it, knowingly or not.  Let us be conscious of the expected norms we set up in our homes.

I want to encourage and challenge you tonight to dream up a beautiful family for yourself.
Now expect that as a reality for the family you are culturing.
And take action to bring those expectations to fruition.

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