Family Expectations and Success
May 1, 2010 6:27 am
Updated: May 3, 2010 9:29 am
I work in the same high school I graduated from 30 (Gasp!) years ago. Many of the students there now are the children of people I knew either from my high school days or my brother or sisters'. This past week I received a phone call from a woman needing her high school transcript. When she gave me her name, I could not believe it - she was one of my teammates and very good friends who I had lost touch of after graduation!
She made arrangements to come in the next day to pick up her transcript. I was really excited to see her. In high school I played basketball, ran track and was one of two girls who started the girls cross-country team at our school. This friend was an outstanding athlete and we spent much time together during high school. After graduation, though, we lost touch going our separate ways - raising a family in my case and caring for a very ill mother in hers.
When she arrived in my office I knew who she was immediately - she looked exactly the same! She had a stack of photos from various times during our friendship that was so much fun to look at and remember all the good times! We spent over an hour "catching up" and exchanging e-mails so we can stay in touch now.
My husband was out of town most of this week, so that night when I got home I had plenty of time to reflect on how my life has turned out. I married my high school sweetheart at age 20 and we are still married. Most people were sure we wouldn't make it because we were so young. I think when you find your soul-mate, it doesn't matter what age you are - you know when you find that certain someone. I was fortunate to find mine at such a young age.
Four years after we were married we started our family. Neither of us have a college degree, though I did graduate from business college. We don't make a lot of money, but we get by on what we have. Our children always had everything they needed and a lot of the things they wanted. Some said they were spoiled. I disagree. Anything "above and beyond" that they had they earned by helping out and doing chores. Yes - my children had chores. No - they did not get an allowance. Chores were things that were simply expected to be done because they were a part of the family. They cleaned their rooms, put away their clothes, vacuumed, mowed the grass, did dishes, cared for pets.
I expected my children to be polite and respectful to their elders. They called their friends parents "Mr. or Mrs. So and So". They learned please and thank you, and excuse me. They did not interrupt. I didn't tell my children they were wonderful just because they did their homework or cleared the table. They knew they wouldn't always be first, or the best; hard work would bring that reward. They were wonderful when they surprised me by doing something more than what was expected. They learned right from wrong. They knew when mom and dad said "No", that meant "No" and they'd best not argue about it; they knew they wouldn't change our mind. Neither one of us - we were a united front.
I know people that consider themselves far more successful than I. Some of these people are my friends. They make more money and have fancier "things". All fine and good for them, if that's what makes them happy. They also are the same people who complain their children never visit, or their children are "failures" because they aren't doing what they think they should be doing.
I have one friend who's daughter doesn't go to visit her grandmother because it's boring there and Grandma is old. How sad! My children stop to visit their grandparents whenever they get the chance. My parents live on the way to my son's college so whenever he comes home he always stops in on his way to and from school. When my dad had open heart surgery, my son stopped in every time he went by on his way to go snowboarding to shovel grandpa's walk or go buy their dog food or do anything else that needed to be done. My daughter works in the same city they live, so she often stops to visit after work. When I will mention this to my friend, she'll say "How much do you pay them to do that?"
I look back to what we expected from our children as members of the family and our expectations were far different from those friends' expectations.
I know everyone views success differently, and there are different levels of success from financial success to athletic success. To me, you cannot measure success with how much money you have made; but rather it is measured by happiness. If what you have done in your life has made you content and happy then you have achieved success. I see my children growing into kind and caring adults and I know I have achieved the highest level of success!