This I Believe

Laura - Schenectady, New York
Entered on July 21, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: parenthood, work

I believe we need to raise our expectations.

In a time when there seems to be so much emphasis on diminishing returns, in government, education, entertainment, in society as a whole, we seem to be willing to accept so much less than we should. I believe it’s time to raise the bar, and doing so begins at home.

My two daughters, ages 12 and 13, continuously amaze me with their intelligence, wit, and empathy towards others. I ask myself, “where did they come from?”, then realize they came from me, from my parenting, and their father’s parenting, and the parenting of my partner and their stepmother. They come from their grandparents and their aunts and uncles and their cousins and their peers. Most importantly, they come from a family that sets the bar high, very high, and they manage to rise above it again and again.

So what is it about them that makes them so able? I believe it is the fact that they know, on a very fundamental level, that they are expected to be able, they are expected to do the right thing, they are expected to consider the feelings of another before they act, they are expected to be kind and thoughtful and funny and smart.

I see evidence of this every day, when they question bigotry and opression, when they treat strangers with respect, when they champion the underdog, and when they demonstrate that despite their ages, they truly love each other as sisters should.

When we lower our expectations, we only get what we deserve, from our leaders, our teachers, our storytellers, our artists, our neighbors, our children, and ourselves. When we accept less, less becomes the standard.

I believe we need to raise our expecations.