Expect the Unexpected
A commercial has been airing lately that infers how people should expect the unexpected— in a good way! One commercial shows the leader of a rock band, that’s apparently playing in a small bar in a very small town, announcing that their lead guitarist is a no-show. The audience responds with groans in anticipation of a night of lousy music. To their surprise and delight, the band leader follows up with the news that famed guitarist Peter Frampton will be taking the place of the missing guitarist. Cheers are heard and smiles are seen as people take in the good news that they were not expecting.
A while ago, two seventh grade boys sprang into action after seeing their school bus driver slump at the wheel of the bus while it was still in motion! The driver had apparently suffered a heart attack. The first young man, who was sitting close to the driver, veered the out-of-control bus to the right and let it slow down before removing the keys from the ignition to stop it from moving. It was headed for a church. The second teen, who was trained in CPR, came from the back of the bus and attempted to revive the driver. The actions of both of these teens were successful in saving the lives of their classmates.
I’m not sure if the parents of these teens would have ever expected their children to respond to a challenge the way they did, but how proud they must be. If I told you as a parent you have to expect the unexpected, your thoughts would probably drift toward the negative. In other words, when something happens, that statement usually means it’s going to be tough. We all have days that we look back on and wish they’d never happened. I remember receiving a phone call from my wife that I really didn’t want and I’d hoped I’d never have to take. Sometimes in life you have to deal with those kinds of moments. I’ve bet you’ve had some too.
We shouldn’t always expect the worst, but our tendency is to move in that direction. I think we do that to soften any upcoming blows. We’d rather be under than overwhelmed. Unfortunately, this leads to a lot of negative thinking which can result in poor health. When we think negatively, we tend to overgeneralize something that has happened. For example, you fail to get a job after several interviews and then tell yourself that nothing ever works out for you. Another example is a tendency to engage in mind reading a situation. Think about a time you emailed a new acquaintance about getting together and for two days heard nothing back. You started assuming (mind read) that this person must not like you.
As parents you need to spend more energy expecting the unexpected by bracing for something positive to happen. This might be when your child accomplishes something that you weren’t sure they could. It could be the moment when you realize they have been listening to you all these years or you notice they practice good manners without your constant prompting.
The definition of self-fulfilling prophecy is the tendency that our expectations will produce the behavior consistent with those expectations. Therefore, if we expect that our children can’t do something, our behavior will subconsciously reinforce that expectation. For that reason, we need to change our expectations from negative to positive and have more success winning at home.