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Pretty, but dumb

June 17, 2011

No, I’m not talking about any Hollywood celebutants with that title. I’m talking about this quote that I read on the Parents Magazine Facebook status this morning:

“Quote for the day: ‘Accept the children the way we accept trees—with gratitude, because they are a blessing—but do not have expectations or desires. You don’t expect trees to change, you love them as they are.’ — Isabel Allende”

At first I was all, “Oh, that’s nice. I like trees. I like babies. I like acceptance. Maybe I’ll post that or Tweet it or save it or something.”

But then, I read it again.

And again.

And then I thought, “Wait — no expectations for our children? No desires for them? That’s actually pretty dumb.”

When I went to comment, I realized that almost 100 people already had — and echoing the same sentiment as me, no doubt.

My favorite: “Ridiculous. That sounds all flowery and poetic but really, its dumb.”

And they continued:

“Good idea, no expectations means useless selfish adults. Brilliant! That’s totally what I want for my kids.”

“This quote is totally misguided and misses the point. A parent’s job is to teach skills like language and set examples, among other things.”

“Foolish. If you don’t hold your children to high expectations they will never hold themselves to high expectations…this quote is garbage!”

I suppose the author may have meant to let your kids “be who they are” in a broader sense. Like, if your kid loves art and hates science, don’t disown them because they don’t become a doctor.

But really — we only live up to the expectations set on us, whether it’s self-imposed or from our parents. We should not only expect our kids to be good: we should expect them to be great.

After all, if you want your kids to fail, tell them that’s what you expect.


In dear Isabel’s defense; however, I will say: I like her thoughts on accepting children with gratitude. As much chatter as we make about saving the trees, it is our next generation that is truly our greatest resource.


One Comment leave one →
  1. Stephanie Stoner permalink
    June 17, 2011 1:04 pm

    I love the last sentence you wrote- “it is our next generation that is truly our greatest resource”. Excellent stuff!

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