Our kids are going to disappoint us. They are going to fail to meet our expectations for them. The vision that we have in our heads for the sort of person they should be is not the sort of person they will be sometimes. They'll do things or not do things and they'll make choices that we don't understand. It will be very frustrating. It is very frustrating.
So what do we do about it? Should we accept that they are who they are and that we should adjust our expectations to meet them where they're at? Should we lower our expectations to the point that our kids don't feel like failures when they fail to achieve the standard we've set?
I'm of the opinion that we should not ever lower our expectations for our kids. We shouldn't lower the standards that we set for the sort of person that we want our kids to become. Yes, they'll fall short and fail from time to time. We'll get angry with them and they'll feel like failures. But that's not always a bad thing and it's certainly not the worst thing.
Kids will strive to meet the standards and will follow the example set by those they trust. If you set that standard low, where the kid is instead of where you want them to be, then you're setting them up for failure and disappointment. Once they achieve that low standard, the chance that they'll continue trying to get better is low. Without the guidance of a parent, a child is essentially abandoned and left to fend for themselves in the pursuit of character.
So how do we deal with the times when our kids fail? How should we respond when they aren't the person that we want them to be? I suggest that rather than lowering our expectations, we increase our grace.
When your kid fails, acknowledge the failure, study it, learn from it, deal with it, and encourage your kid to try again. Don't pretend like it didn't happen. Don't coddle your kid. Do show them the way back to the path that you want them to be on. Encourage them to travel that direction and let them know that you're on the same side.