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Why Parents Should Have High Expectations Of Their Children
May 4, 2005
by Tony Zizza

With just a few weeks left in the school year, parents around the country are just about to say:

"Great. What's my child going to do now?"

It is amazing to me how much we allow our children to get away with. We blame the media, the bad kids at school, and the past for just about everything our children decide to do. We act as if everyone's children but our own are supposed to live up to "expectations."

I believe parents should have high expectations of their children. This way, even if your children make a few mistakes, it's not the end of the world. They won't be left with nothing. They won't have to hear their parents keep saying, "Great. What's my child going to do now?"

You see, the higher the expectation - the bigger the reward. We have all been lied to about the very existence of ADHD and ADD. Not to mention, the absurdity of ODD. A subjective diagnosis of any variety of (ASMI) -- that is, alphabet soup mental illness, does nothing for the objective problems children and adults can have from time to time.

So, in a world where children have low expectations and low frustration levels, even the smallest completion of a chore or task seems to call for big rewards. This doesn't do anybody any good. There should not be a lot of praise for doing the simple things. The basics. The common sense things, if you want to call them that. Things like putting dishes away, taking care of kitty litter, or keeping a bedroom neat on a regular basis are no-brainer's.

However, when parents do not have high expectations of their children, doing the no-brainer's can actually put an end to well deserved punishment. This is the perfect recipe to cook up adult-children. If children do not face up to their responsibilities when they are supposed to, and parents do not stay consistent, everyone else suffers.

I don't think I'm really going out on a limb when I assume the following is just a very partial list of real life scenarios that happen when parents do not have high expectations of their children:

  • Ritalin is used as a substitute for real parenting and real discipline
  • Children are allowed to act up in restaurants because no one should impede on their unfettered freedom to express themselves
  • Parents act more like friends to their children, than, well, parents
  • Parents think the biggest accomplishment their children can make throughout all their school years is not smoking dope or drinking
  • Children think that just because they aren't allowed to use the phone, that doesn't mean they can't watch television

By all means, this is just a starter list. A brain exercise, if you will. Both parents and children are always better off than some people. At the same time, they can be worse off than others. Attitude is what makes all the difference. Attitude determines who the winners are, and why the losers are the way that they are.

If there is one thing that parents all over the country should agree on, it is this: antidepressants and psychotropic drugs are not the answer. They are not the answer to children behaving badly, and they most certainly aren't the answer for parents who continue to drop the ball.

Big pharma wants us to believe that their drugs can help families. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Parents should have high expectations of their children as the ultimate protection against the drugging that runs rampant in our crumbling culture. High expectations don't hurt anyone. They help everyone. They create all the averages we sometimes do have to live with.

As the summer months loom ahead, we need to stay on our children just as we did during yet another school year. Parenting is a skill set, not a switch to turn on and off. Ideas have consequences, and children who do not listen to the expectations their parents have for them (and should have for themselves) -- the idea that their future looks grim should not be a big surprise.

After all, bothering to have high expectations does not lead many parents or children to utter these words on a day to day basis come graduation day:

"Do you want fries with that?"

Zizza is a freelance writer who writes frequently about children and education. He serves as Vice President for the State of Georgia for the organization, Parents For Label and Drug Free Education.

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