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by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families

To 'expect' means to confidently assume something is going to happen or arrive. It sounds simple, but expectations can cause a great deal of confusion, frustration and stress.

John worked for several bosses. His job was to ship parts to businesses around the country. Unfortunately, each of John's bosses thought his/her orders should take 'first priority' and they would hound John about his apparent tardiness when orders did not reach their customer in a timely manner. None would accept that John only had one pair of hands and could, therefore, only do one job at a time. He got so stressed that he developed an ulcer and had to leave his job.

Sarah showed some aptitude towards soccer so her father enrolled her in after school training. He had always enjoyed the game so he was determined that she was going to make him proud by attaining a place on the school 'A' soccer squad. He pushed her at training, deriding her efforts and criticizing her whenever she missed a goal. Her mother, on the other hand, was concerned Sarah wasn't getting her piano lessons or homework done. Sarah loved both parents, but became stressed to the point of feeling ill because she could not do justice to their expectations.

Jude was a 4 year-old boy who loved to play with his train set. He would try to set it all up by himself, but when he couldn't make something fit right he would fly into a rage and kick the trains around the room. He was frustrated by his own inability to successfully complete the task.

It is fine and reasonable to have high expectations when ability, encouragement and resources are present to promote successful completion of a task. However, if any of these aspects are absent, then the inability to deliver becomes destructive and has long-term negative effects. Sometimes it just takes readiness, practice and patience to succeed.

Here are some suggestions to encourage families to achieve great things. Kids will believe they can do anything they put their minds and hearts to when they live in a high achieving environment and are encouraged as they go. When parents reach their preset goals, and when children see the excitement these achievements create in their parents, they often want to experience the same satisfaction.

It is important to make sure the expectations are realistic and that the child really wants to attain the same goals that parents have in mind. They may have other ideas. Parents need to identify and encourage their kids' aptitudes, while helping them maintain a healthy balance in their lives.

Bosses need to understand that those who work for them need written expectations and clear time frames to get work done. They also need to discuss any difficulties being experienced when the outcome is not being reached and make appropriate changes. Blaming a worker who is trying his best only causes dissention. The same goes with families.

Jenny and Joe had never done well at school or felt they had achieved anything else for that matter. They had no aspirations for themselves or their kids. They just existed from day to day, and their kids never had the confidence or inclination to meet any challenges. It is just as destructive to have no expectations for yourself or your kids, as to have expectations that are too high. It would take a discerning friend or family member to recognize that the Joe and Jenny's of this world sometimes just need encouragement and coaching to get them to lift their vision and experience the thrill of success. It would not only be doing them a great favor, but also be giving hope and courage to their children. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to our kids and those around us.

Everyone deserves to experience the excitement of achievement and the thrill of the chase. It is never too late to set new heights for yourselves or your kids.

If you have any comments or questions on this subject, please do not hesitate to contact us at HYPERLINK "mailto:sally@forefrontfamilies.org" sally@forefrontfamilies.org. We invite you to also check out our website at HYPERLINK "http://www.forefrontfamilies.org/" www.forefrontfamilies.org and our blog site at HYPERLINK "http://www.forefrontfamilies.blogspot.com/" www.forefrontfamilies.blogspot.com for further assistance.

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