Expectations and Guardrails: Magic or Mess?

I remember distinctly overhearing one of my sisters, at age 16, yelling to my mother: “You put me on a pedestal and it’s not fair!”

My mother gently responded: “Yes. And I expect you to stay there.”

The same sister, thirty years later, shared with me: “I was always hoping mom would draw a line for me and hold me to it. I kept testing her by staying out too late and hanging with the wrong crowd. I wanted her to make me stay home. To put a curfew on me. I craved that from her and never got it.”

Expectations and guardrails.

As a parent, I know there is a bit of magic in getting them right and potential for a big mess when we don’t.

Have I been clear about what I expect from my children at home and at school? Do they know the boundaries we have drawn and that we care enough to hold them?

In the Acton Academy studio, the expectations and guardrails are clear. They are written within the Contract and posted to be seen each day. The Eagles can trust us to hold the guardrails tightly so they stay on track.  It is the hardest and possibly the most important work we do as Guides in our mission to call up young heroes.

Can my children trust me to do the same at home?

There are only two weeks left in Session Two of this school year. It’s the perfect time for me to sit with my boys and look at their progress.

Are they satisfied with their work so far? Am I? Does something need to change? Will we as a family be willing to change if need be? These are the hard discussions that end up grounding a young life.

Just as my sister yearned for my mother to create and hold guardrails, my own children yearn to be heard and known. They want to be held accountable. And they want to be seen as worthy of excellence. Yes, excellence you want to put on a pedestal and show off to the world.  (And the front of your refrigerator is a worthy pedestal.)

What work or creation will you show off and celebrate at the end of this session?

What boundary or guardrail will you hold?

Will you claim an expectation of excellence?

If not, what do you expect?