Setting them Up for Success

Setting them Up for Success December 13, 2011

When I was a child in a Catholic elementary school, I had a teacher who told our class a funny story. She began her story, saying, “Now class, I am going to tell you a story about something that happened a few years ago. I was teaching my students about the crucifixion and told them that above Jesus’ cross hung a plaque, and that on the plaque were the initials INRI. When I asked if anyone knew what INRI stood for, one of the students replied, ‘I’m Nailed Right In!'”

Of course, the entire class began giggling, thinking that this was the funniest response ever. My teacher, on the other hand, was mortified, and let us know that she thought our behavior was disrespectful and unacceptable. How could we laugh at such a story, she wondered aloud? I can remember thinking to myself, “How does she expect us to hear something so clever and to keep a straight face? What did she expect us to say?” In short, my teacher was setting us up for failure – yes, perhaps our response was a bit disrespectful, but what did she expect of 6th graders? If she didn’t want us to laugh, she should not have told us this story, or at least she should have prefaced her story by letting us know her expectations for our response.

In what areas of life am I setting my children up for success, and in what areas am I setting them up for failure? Do I have certain unfair expectations of them given the circumstances of our family life? Are there certain areas where I could have higher expectations? These are questions that I will be bringing to my prayer time, but a few examples come to mind right away. For example, I am setting my son up for failure when I expect him to make his bed and brush his teeth in the morning before school, but at the same time ask him to stay in the kitchen so that he does not wake up his little sisters. I am setting my daughter up for failure when I ask her to sit still at dinner, but am up and out of my seat for most of the meal getting drinks for this child and more rice for that child. I am setting my children up for success when I tell them about the importance of friendship with Jesus, and then pray with them every night. I am setting them up for success when I limit their screen time, and also limit my own screen time by choosing to read a book or newspaper instead of turning on the computer or TV.

St. Lucy, patron saint of eyesight and patroness of light, pray for us! Through the grace of God, give us eyes to see the inconsistencies in our own lives, and shed light where there is darkness.

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