Have you ever held expectations for your children or other family members that were unrealistic? Maybe the expectation is even good, dealing with appropriate behavior.

Recently I was talking with another mother. Our conversation turned to our struggles in the family. Struggles and anxieties. When kids fight and refuse to share it makes us frustrated, maybe even angry. We have thoughts like, “Don’t you get it! That is unacceptable! You are selfish…” And the thoughts go on and on.

As the conversation continued we acknowledged that in our heads we have this idea that our kids will “arrive.” That one day they won’t fight anymore, and will share everything. While we have this expectation we look within. Have we “arrived”? Do we always share willingly? Do we get along with everyone and never fight?

No, this dear friend and I realized. We are far from perfect so how can we expect this of our children. Parenting has much to do with leading by example. Leading. That means someone is following!

What does your leadership as a parent look like? This is so humbling to me. I cannot expect something of my daughter that I don’t expect of myself.

This reminds me of the story told in the gospel of John about the woman caught committing adultery. Jesus had compassion for the woman. He showed the Pharisees that she was not the only one with sin. The Pharisees accused this woman when their own hearts were full of sin.

John 8:4-11 They said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.  Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.  And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”  And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” ESV

We aren’t told what this woman did after all her accusers left. I can only imagine that her heart was changed. From that heart change a lifestyle change as well.

Could our children benefit from this kind of leadership? The power of compassion and honesty. Breaking chains of sin and bondage through love. That’s how Jesus lead. Could we follow His example?