When are Expectations of our Kids Healthy or Harmful?

boy_homework_mom_cookingThis week we were talking with our son about his grades, all Bs and two Cs, and I joked, “I always thought you would get A’s!”

It wasn’t funny like I thought.

I apologized, as I know he does his homework every night. But, then I asked him, “How did that make you feel.”  (This is a magical question I’ve come to know).

He said, “It makes me feel stupid, like I’m not good enough.”


I take it back. Is it too late to take it back?

My crash lesson woke me up to the fact that my expectations can have power, and sometimes negative power to discourage and deflate my kid’s self-image.

Perhaps as children, we too caught this same message and believed its lie, ‘I’m not good enough.’  Unknowingly, it can become a filter through which we form assumptions that aren’t even true about ourselves. Argh!

What kinds of expectations are reasonable (like good manners and sharing) and what expectations are potentially harmful (like career paths and impeccable GPAs)?

This is what I know I can do: encourage my kids to be the unique, gifted, amazing people they were created to be and let them form their own identity instead of filling my mold. I’m sure I’ve made hundreds of mistakes, but, it’s never too late to intentionally ramp up my messages of affirmation and acceptance.

Today, I’m going look for my kid’s strengths and tell them how wonderful they are. I will speak life into them. Instead of, “Don’t miss the ball” or “I hope you don’t fail the test.” I can say, “I know you can kick it hard” and “You’re smart and you’re going to get a great grade.”

We all need someone cheering us on, “You’re good at that” certainly is a great place to start!

Learning together,



olivia and stephanieStephanie Allen is Co-founder and President of Dream Dinners and a New York Times best-selling co-author of The Hour that Matters Most.
Naturally a visionary and optimist, Stephanie hopes to inspire America through her nurturing voice of encouragement, assuring families…    

“You’re doing a great job!”