Helping our kids manage expectations.

recessions_survival_guide_kids_pm-thumb-270x270A young mom recently shared with me an incident with her son that showed how understanding expectations can help in parenting. This mom, (I’ll call her Angie, not her real name), was dealing with her seven year old, whose anger was ratcheting up by the minute. It had even come to the point of hitting and punching. In the midst on his outbursts and her growing frustration, she wisely stopped and asked him, “Do you want to do this?” His response gave some hope, since he stopped as well and replied, “No, mommy.”

Angie had recently been reading my book, so he brought the book to her as something to read to him. She told him, “this book reminds me of you”, which hooked him in to want to discuss this. “How come?” “Well, your anger seems to get out of control, but I don’t know what it is you expect.” Her son was quick to answer that, “Well, this morning you and dad said I couldn’t watch TV, but never said why. We usually get to watch TV every morning, so that made me mad.” His disappointment built into anger which percolated during the day and built to the rage she now faced.

Angie learned something: talk about expectations with your kids. Ask them what they expect, and why they expect it. Her son’s disappointment, which was real and understandable, set the tone for the day. It triggered the frustration and anger that ultimately resulted in his outburst.

Our children need to have a place to express their expectations, and we need to open that conversation by asking the question, “What do you expect?” When we find that out, we may be a lot closer to understanding what is behind their actions and behaviours. And to helping them gain some perspective and self control.

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© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014

“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press (www.scarletcordpress.com).

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“How do you handle disappointment?”

Tim HudakIt’s the morning after the Ontario provincial election, and the face of Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak said it all. Extreme disappointment. The polls had predicted a dead heat between Hudak, Kathleen Wynne and Andrea Horvath. But the results were a resounding defeat for challenger Hudak. His party lost ten seats, so any hope of a tight race evaporated quickly, and his fate was sealed.

How will he handle his disappointment? He began by tendering his resignation as leader in his speech last evening. He steps away from his role and has other decisions to make. How he handles them will speak of his ability to move forward.

How do you handle disappointment? Do you retreat? Walk away, withdraw, pull back? Or do you rage – explode, let it all out, get it out of your system? Or perhaps you regret, saying “if only….”, dreaming of what might have been.

My suggestion is to realign, to let the disappointment bring us back to reality, so we can reassess things and align with the way things really are.

For Tim Hudak, he has realized his message did not resonate with voters, and his leadership has not advanced his party, so withdrawal is understandable. My hope is he will realign his expectations and find a new path that leads him to better results in future endeavours.

And for you? Where are you facing disappointment? Is it a place where you need to realign?

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© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014

“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press (www.scarletcordpress.com).

 

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“Why am I writing a book on …disappointment?”

“Hey Brian, what are you writing on next?”disappointment (2)

“Disappointment…”

“Disappointment?! That sounds happy. Why write on THAT!”

That’s a fair question….why write on disappointment? Shouldn’t I be writing on something positive, something upbeat, something…you know, nice? Well, I get that question, and I might prefer to be writing on happier matters, but when I speak on expectations, this seems to be the topic that hits a nerve with most people. We live lives of quiet, private disappointment. And we often don’t know what to do with that.

How do you handle disappointment? Many say they simply keep that part of their lives to themselves, and don’t share it much. But it’s there, it just does not go away. Is there some way we can we handle it?

As I write on this, I invite you to share your stories with me. If I use your story, I will give you a credit in the book, and a free copy of the book when it is released. If you prefer not to use your name, we will honour that request, as well. I have heard some important stories of disappointment, and yours may be one we need to hear. It need not be that you have resolved your disappointment, only that you live with it. If you want to share how you cope, we welcome that, too.

To share your story, please contact me at brian@whatdoyouepxect.ca.

I look forward to hearing what you can share on this matter. I hope you will look forward to the book when it comes out.

Expect cover 111

© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014

“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press (www.scarletcordpress.com).

 

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“Make sure those expectations are reasonable.”

Toronto’s hockey team is in a freefall as the playoffs are nearing, and the finger pointing is in full swing. On Tuesday evening the Leaf captain, defenseman Dion Phaneuf, had one of his worst games, which even he had to admit yesterday on talk radio. Humbling, indeed.dion-phaneuf

In a Globe and Mail article this morning, James Mirtle did a good job analyzing this using expectations. As the title says, “Phaneuf a victim of the expectations game”. (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/leafs-beat/mirtle-lofty-expectations-see-phaneuf-under-fire-as-leafs-fade-in-the-playoff-race/article17689999/).

He points out, “They (Calgary, his last team) didn’t trust Phaneuf to do the heavy lifting. And it makes you wonder how much he’s been miscast in Toronto.” He goes on to say that Phaneuf’s role here places him in more shifts in the defensive zone, while his strengths seem to lie at the other end.

So what to do? Mirtle’s concern is that the Leafs are miscasting their top defenseman. “He is a good but flawed player….but if the Leafs continue to cast him as a king….the mixed results are at least partly on them.” His conclusion: “More reasonable expectations wouldn’t hurt either.”

Whether we are drafting, trading, hiring, appointing – however we are putting someone in a role to succeed, if we do not take into consideration their abilities and strengths, we are being unrealistic. And that way, everyone loses.

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© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014

“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press (www.scarletcordpress.com).

 

 

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“Some things you just cannot predict.”

We have just come through a move from one city to another. We love our new home, and were happy to have a buyer for our previous home firmed up quite quickly. Everything seemed to be moving along well, and then…BOOM….we had a leak in the basement, courtesy of the extreme winter weather which open a crack in the foundation wall. It showed up at the most inopportune time, as we were ready to hand over. Ugh, who would have predicted this?

No one, of course.        moving-van-636

I have already written on the silly notion of “expecting the unexpected”, and shown that is really a meaningless statement. Our issue was not that we did not expect the unexpected, but that we could never predict this turn of events.

The good news is we worked out a compromise to conclude the deal and we have moved on, with thanksgiving and relief. But we also realize that expectations are fluid, and what seems smooth and clear one minute can turn to trouble very quickly. Why? Because life is so often unpredictable.

I will follow up on this subject with some other thoughts on unpredictably in the next few posts. Meanwhile, keep yourself flexible, who knows what may be coming up next.

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© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014

“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press (www.scarletcordpress.com).

 

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“When you say what they don’t expect.”

In my work as a pastor I have received calls for financial help.  We call it benevolence.  The churches I have worked for usually keep a benevolent fund so that we can help individuals or families in times of trouble.  The money or gifts provided are never loans, they are simply sharing our abundance with people in their season of need.  We are happy to do that for those who attend our church, or those who reach out to us from the community and ask for help.

As much as we want to help everyone who asks with whatever they request, that is not realistic.  We have a set policy to guide our giving, both so we can keep our giving within government regulations for charitable organizations, as well as so we can be fair in our use of the resources our people entrust us to use to help the needy.  Part of my role as pastor is to communicate those limitations to those who do make requests. In doing so they can understand why we are helping the way we do as well recognize the limitations we work with in dispersing this fund.

angry expectation call

I share this as background to a situation where someone got very upset with me as I tried to explain how we could help them.  In calling the church, they did not expect to hear a pastor talk about practicalities.   In their mind, the pastor is a person who hears their need and seeks to meet it.  I obviously was not meeting this person’s expectations.  Rather than listen to what I had to say, this person angrily complained that I must not be a pastor, because I was not talking like a pastor.  I replied that I truly was the pastor, and that I was speaking like a pastor, just not the way she expected a pastor to speak.  That call did not end well, sorry to say.

What happens when you say what others don’t expect?  They may say things like:

  • “That’s not what my last professor said….he told me I was exceptional.  How can you say I need to work on that?”
  • “I thought you were going to give me a raise after all the hard work I’ve been doing for you….you don’t even notice what I do, do you?  Instead you are cutting my hours…what’s with that?  Can’t you see I’m your best worker?”
  •  “Hey, Simon Cowell, how dare you question my singing ability…I’ll show you, I’ll win this whole competition…I’ll be a star, I’ll show you!”

We have no control over what others expect us to say.  And they have no control over what they want us to say.  Do not be surprised when people don’t like what you have said.  You simply have said what they did not expect.

That’s the time to ask them why they expected you to say that.

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© Brian F. Reynolds   BFRspace 2014

“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press (www.scarletcordpress.com).

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“Who will be the next…?”

CNN has cancelled Piers Morgan’s show, three years after he replaced Larry King.  King retired from his nightly primetime slot after twenty-five years, and the search was on to find the “next Larry King”.  And the winner was Morgan.  Or maybe not.  You see, there was never really going to be a “next Larry King”.  That is an unrealistic expectation.  He was one one of a kind.  In fact, the talk has already begun that King may himself return to that spot on CNN.  Go figure!piers morgan

How often do we find ourselves looking for “the next…”?  In the sports world, when a legend like Gordie Howe was past his prime, (though he did play into his fifties, what a man), the question was “who would be the next #9 (his jersey number on the Red Wings).  Though some sought to be that person, and wear that number, even the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, wore #99 and chose not to model his game after Howe’s.  Gretzky himself was unique, and his game has never been duplicated.  And so it goes.

Yet we so often search for “the next one”.  In religious circles, people talk about the next Billy Graham (one of his children?), or the next Pope John Paul II.  In music, it was the next Beatles, or Michael Jackson.  In business, the next great innovator, in politics, the next charismatic leader.  You get the point.

So what’s wrong with looking for the next….?  Well, simply this: the things that made the last one great are the unique combination of qualities and factors that set that person apart from the rest.  Short of cloning or copying that person, we are much better to celebrate their uniqueness and move on.  And stop looking for the next one.  For no one can or will compare.

How about you?  Are you looking for “the next one” in your life?  As in experience, or job, or relationship?  Does it have to be like the last one?  Let’s hope not, because it never will be the same. And that’s okay!

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© Brian F. Reynolds   BFRspace 2014

“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press (www.scarletcordpress.com).

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