Do We Expect Too Much from Our Kids?

Let me say from the get go that I'm an old school guy who believes in having a solid work ethic with little tolerance for whining or excuses. That being said I cannot help but wonder if we expect too much from our kids today? As the father of a teenager and a coach of a few dozen teenage and pre-teen girls I have a unique perspective on the topic.

Now my daughter is highly self-motivated. She stays on top of her school work without her mom or I saying a word to her about it. She takes great pride in doing her best and I am proud of her for her effort and attitude about her studies. Likewise she exhibits a similar work ethic on the softball field with high expectations for achievement. As a slapper she usually hits near .500 anyway, but she expects to get on base every time and is genuinely disappointed when she does not. Does this sounds like anyone you know?

fastpitch softball pitcher
There is a fine line between strong self expectations to drive oneself to be the best and expectations for perfection that are unachievable. But the question remains where do these expectations come from? Are they really internal or might they be from external forces?

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Let's face it...our world is a super competitive place in 2012; particularly in academics and athletics. Getting accepted to any top college is the toughest it has ever been, while year around athletics has raised the bar to a level I could have never imagined as a kid. As parents we want the best for our kids and we certainly don't want our daughters to fall behind in the race do we?

I believe, whether stated or implied, that our kids feel immense pressure to excel from us that no other generation of kids has even been subjected to. I marvel at how much is expected of the girls in my travel organization, with three hour practices twice weekly (on school nights) and weekends filled with 1-2 hour car rides and three to six games. On top of that I can't remember having the homework load these kids talk about (and I see first hand with my high school daughter) having. I guess this kind of schedule beats having them home watching TV!

The challenge with these external expectations, particularly from parents, is that these kids want nothing more than to please their parents. They understand the cost of travel ball (at least as a teen they do), and they understand the need to get great grades in order to get into college. Many of them also understand that without that softball scholarship it will be hard for their parents to afford college...period! And with college expenses expected to rise 8-15% per year for the foreseeable future the pressure of expectations will get higher on our kids to perform at peak levels.

I can't help but think, at least on the softball field, that lowered expectations from parents might actually cause they athletes to perform better. No human performs their best under undue pressure and anxiety, and for sure in softball where a hitter has all of 1/3 of a second to make a determination whether to swing and where to swing, given ball velocity, movement and location.

Is it noble to push our kids to best their best...absolutely. However, let's all recognize that ours is a warp speed world today where our kids barely have time to catch their breath and clear their head sometimes. Maybe we do expect too much. What do you think?


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