I ate at an Indian restaurant where one of the dishes was something I had eaten before. I liked it but not a lot. It was soupy, and I said so to Donna, my wife. She added, “It’s more tomatoey than usual,” and a light clicked on in my head.
Of course, I thought. This is just a kind of tomato soup—even though it wasn’t labeled thus—and in an instant my appreciation of it soared from “average Indian entrée” to “spectacular tomato soup.” And all that happened when I adjusted my expectations of the dish.
And so it can be with life. If children grow up being rescued and enabled, naturally they expect life to be a theme park, where the rides and food are simply provided, and they can go from one excitement and gratification to the next. But eventually they will encounter real life, with its requirements, standards, obstacles, disapproval, disappointments, and pain.
And in those moments they feel betrayed, and understandably so. They were taught to expect that life would be ice cream at Disney World, so when they encounter an unavoidable situation where life is peeling a pile of potatoes—some of which are half-rotten—their disappointment is profound.
But what about the child who is raised with ample portions of potatoes, ice cream, climbing, soaring, radiant health, and diarrhea. Such children fully expect difficulties, so when they encounter them, they simply make choices, rather than reacting to the disappointment and discomfort that are greatly magnified by their failed expectations.
Don’t teach your children to expect comfort and to avoid pain. Teach them to work, make choices, gather information, work again, exercise faith, and follow the rules of life. These children will make or find great tomato soup while those around them are complaining about their unfulfilled expectations.
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