Expectations

By Sarah Stolfa, freshman and Staff Writer

Question

What can I do if I don't feel I measure up to my parents' expectations?

Answer

Many teens deal with not feeling like they have lived up to their parents' standards, or they feel they have made them feel ashamed of them in some way. While I have not ever made a huge mistake, I have made many little mistakes that made me concerned about my parents' view of me!

I have always struggled with math, but have usually managed to keep up. In sixth grade when grades started to matter, it seemed as though I was just getting worse and worse. When I received an incredibly low grade on a homework assignment, then a quiz, and a test soon after, I was no longer worried about my grades; I was worried that I had disappointed my parents.

When I had to confront my mom and tell her about my low grades, I was expecting her to be very mad. Instead, she asked me what we should do to handle these low grades. I was shocked. She was acting like the father in the story of the Prodigal Son, and I had been feeling like the son.

In Jesus' parable, the son gets to the point in his life where he doesn't feel good enough even to be his father's son. He realizes his mistake, but is in such a low state and has no self-confidence that he decides that he will go back and ask his father if he can be his servant. But when the son comes home, his father greets him with open arms and gives him a party. We read, "When he was still along way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him" (The Message, Luke 15:20). The father realizes that his son has made a mistake, but he loves him.

y mom was accepting my mistake and letting me know that while there was an issue that needed to be dealt with, she still loves me. I realized from that experience that everyone makes mistakes, but people can forgive and accept you.

Sarah Stolfa, freshman


Editor's Note:
Sarah's mom handled this situation beautifully and made Sarah feel loved even though she had messed up. But sometimes parents, family members, friends, or teachers can make you feel pretty stupid. So how do you handle it when parents don't forgive, don't make you feel loved, don't work with you to solve a problem?

I think you have to go to God, to the prodigal's Father -- to everyone's Father. It's in your relationship with God that you gain confidence in yourself -- even enough confidence to withstand treatment from others that would try to take away your confidence (even from your parents). So what is the foundation of your/our relationship with God? God is our loving parent, and we are God's capable children. Even though parents may not always parent appropriately, God does. God is everyone's very best parent. We can always turn to God to feel accepted, loved, and appreciated. That's what the story of the Prodigal Son is all about -- the loving and open arms of our "Our Father." We are always good enough for God.

MFE