Expect Great Things (and you just might get them)

by | Mar 11, 2013 | Parenting, Parenting Advice | 9 comments

Last week, I posted about WHY we believe in Parenting With Authority and HOW we do it.  And I assured you that if you ALWAYS MEAN WHAT YOU SAY you’ll be all set.  And, I stand by that. But there IS another component to the system, which is — to assume that your kids are capable of awesomeness.

A lot of my expectations of my own kids are based on my idea that if any kids ever have been capable of something, I can’t see why my kids wouldn’t be.  

Note — this philosophy does not extend to things like this:


Or this:


But my idea that I can leave my kids home alone while I run to the grocery store IS based mostly on this:


The more I’ve read about children in other eras and other countries, and the more children I’ve had myself, the more I’ve realized that they are capable of much more than our society expects of them.

So, here are a few things I’ve learned to expect from my own children:

They do not need access to food at all times.  I carry snacks for the baby only, everyone else is perfectly capable of waiting until mealtimes (or a convenient snack time) to eat.

My school-age kids can entertain themselves without my help and/or supervision, sometimes quite capably.

The big kids can also go for walks and bike rides and little outings to the convenience store or a neighborhood restaurant or park all by themselves (together).

They can understand that they are allowed to get up in the morning and get breakfast for themselves, but that they are not allowed to scrounge about in the refrigerator or pantry at other times of the day.

Hey, nobody’s perfect.

Similarly, they can differentiate between being allowed to jump on the couch in the playroom, but not in the living room.  And being allowed to eat and drink on the hard floor, but not on the carpet.

All of my three years olds, have been able to sit (and stand, and kneel) quietly through church without snacks or books or toys.  Some of my two years olds have been able to manage it.

Basically, my point is that children throughout time and all over the world, until just recently and right around here, have been expected to be responsible, and uncomplaining, and hungry, and cold, and non-entertained, and adaptable, and helpful, and sometimes even quiet.

I have found that it is possible for my children to be those things, if only I will expect it of them and parent accordingly.



  1. Nanacamille

    Grandparents already know that their grandchildren are "totally awesome" but often had trouble believing their own children where that awesome when growing up until they gave them such awesome grandchildren. I can see Frances playing like Little Richard, Gus dribbling like the prodigy and Jack & Betty or Bobby & Anita taking care of the homestead.

  2. Heather

    Great post! I have learned this the hard way. I am a single parent; and I am currently injured. I cannot walk for at least another week and a half – it's already been a little over a week of being on the couch 🙁 My daughter is nine. She has risen to the occasion and is shining like the star I think she is. Granted, she's not perfect, neither am I. BUT, this young lady has taken over the kitchen and laundry room like a champ! Are things getting done like I'd do them? No. But we are all eating and we all seem to have clean clothes. She is stronger and more capable than I gave her credit for. I will not make that mistake again!

    • Kendra Tierney

      That's great and terrible Heather (just like Oz I guess!). I certainly hope you're up and about soon, but how great to discover how capable your daughter is. I'm sure she's feeling very proud of herself, and she should!

  3. Anonymous

    At what age did you leave your older children home alone with littles? I have a 10, 8 and 3 year old. The 10 year old is fine home alone if I'm just running to the market etc

    • Kendra Tierney

      Once I had a 10 and 8 year old I felt very comfortable leaving them, and even letting them babysit (usually I'll bring the baby with me, but not always.) My son is very authoritarian and my daughter is very nurturing, so between the two of them they make a great babysitter. But, of course, I'll have to reassess with each child to see if I think that particular child can handle it at that age. But it's my hope that they could!

    • Charlotte {WaltzingM}

      Just FYI… some states have laws about the minimum age that children can be left home alone. Some have only guidelines, but a few have actual laws, so you might want to know what the rules are for your state when determining if your children are ready.

    • Kendra

      Thanks Charlotte, in California, there isn't a specific minimum age. It's up to the parent's discretion and judgement (gasp!).

  4. Shauna

    Great post! I also loved the one on parenting with authority. Just this evening I went outside to find my 2 and four year old working together. My kids like to chew on what they call "sour flowers" They are a weed with little yellow flowers. My four year old Catherine had sent my 2 year old Johnny up our steep hill to retrieve her one. He then slid down and climbed off the wall that is taller than him and they both strutted off with weeds in their mouths! I just looked at them and thought of those little children you hear about on the news who get left in their homes for one reason or another and take care of themselves and live. I feel confident that if some accident immobilized me in my home my little kids would totally take care of themselves(and hopefully me) until help came 🙂

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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