It's Only My Opinion

Things I want to tell my kids that won't fit on Twitter

Archive for the category “expectations”

8 Keys to Getting it Right: Respect, Responsibility, Reputation

The world is an interesting place. As I sit down to write, there is talk of Nuclear weapons. My 10 year old is asking if we are going to be bombed. Of course, as a parent you want to calm their nerves, say the right thing, and inside you are hoping that what you are telling them will in fact, be the truth. The thing is, we don’t know the future. We don’t know what will happen because I cannot, they cannot, you cannot, control events like that.

RESPECT how we spell respect!So what can we control? We can try and control the way the world sees us, judges us, and interacts with us by teaching our children the importance of the Three R’s: respect, responsibility and reputation. In my opinion, we can consciously choose to help guide them in showing respect to others, taking responsibility for their actions- or being a responsible member of the family and making sure that their actions do not damage their reputation (or ours as their parents) in the process.

As adults, we see, better than our children do, that the road they are on based on the decisions and the actions they are making, may lead them. We can’t, with any certainty, predict what North Korea may or may not do, but we can see, based on what we have observed in and around our own lives, what may happen to our kids.

8 Keys to getting it rightThis is what I usually share with my kids. “Listen, do I know what may or may not happen if you do “this”? Absolutely not. But based on my life so far on the planet, I see that this or this or that may happen. You can continue to do this and you may get away with it. It may not hurt you or anyone else in the future. Or it might. Is that a chance you are willing to take? I am not here to tell you what to do, but I do feel like I need to share with you some of the outcomes as I see them.”

What I do know about (my) teenagers is this: they want as much control over their lives as they can get. They don’t want adults telling them what to do. If I present my insights as opinions and not fact, then they can sift through what I am saying and view it respectfully. I don’t tell them what choice to make; I simply offer outcomes as I see them. My husband and I want our kids to learn and practice the Three R’s. We point out the times when they are not being respectful, when they are given responsibility and how they show they have earned it and when their reputation is on the line. Blair likes to say that when you are responsible with the small things you will be given bigger things to be responsible for. For example, you teach your son about the value of taking care of his bike. You teach him to put it away, to wash it and not leave it in the driveway to get run over by the family car. When the time comes, he will know what it means to take care of a car. If they respect your authority as a parent, your rules and guidelines, they will know what it means to respect a manager or a boss a girlfriend or a husband. They will also recognize when others are disrespecting them (big bonus). If we teach them to make decisions and act according to their values, to protect their personal reputation as they grow up, they will know what it takes to build and protect a professional reputation as well.

Your reputationIf we have any chance is this life, with as much as we can’t control, it will be because our kids learn how to respect others, take responsibility and protect their reputation in the world. In my opinion, The Three R’s are just as important as all the other keys to getting it right. When our kids practice them with consistency, we know we’ve given them a huge gift. We’ve also given their teachers, coaches, and bosses and spouse a gift as well. Don’t you think?

1. Attitude is everything
2. Do the right thing
3. Do more than you are asked
4. Expectations = disappointment
5. Don’t make excuses
6. Everything matters
7. The 3 R’s: respect, responsibility, reputation
8. Have a Spiritual Practice

Catherine Kolkoski on Google+

8 Keys to Getting it Right: Everything Matters

Welcome to the 6th in my series of blog posts on “8 Keys to Getting it Right.”   ‘Everything Matters’ says just that, that ‘Everything Matters’. I try to instill this philosophy in my kids especially during times when they can’t see that what they do, the way they do it, the attitude that they do it with and the impending result may matter a great deal- they just never know when.

Everything Matters...I think that if you are going to do anything, you need to do it with everything that you have. You have to do your best, no matter what the instance or the task at hand. Whether it is making a bed, cleaning your car, taking a class, making a meal, running onto a court, setting a table, raising a child, or doing a task for a job, you give it your best because everything you do and the way you do it-  matters. And guess what? People notice. They notice the attitude and the outcome. They notice the commitment and the enthusiasm. Don’t like what you are doing? So what- do it better than anyone else. Take pride in the fact that it will have your name, your signature on it, no matter how banal it is to you, it may not be banal to someone else. In my opinion, if you want to be considered for leadership, a promotion, be captain of the team or simply keep your job- make every single thing you do matter;  have it make a difference. Have it make a statement and you will make a name and a life for yourself.

Maybe my kids/your kids don’t care. There is a possibility that ‘Everything Matters’ won’t matter to them. In my opinion, my job is to make them care. To open their eyes and help them see. Some kids are naturally responsive when it comes to knowing that ‘Everything Matters’, others are not. As a parent, it is part of my DNA to make it part of their DNA. I am not supposed to be their friend, I am supposed to help them make better choices and then to let them go when the time comes. I just looked up the word Parent in the dictionary.  (I was hoping it was a little sexier but it wasn’t.)   The definition of the word parent means: a person who brings up and cares for another. My husband and I are definitely in the process of bringing up our three kids  and of course, we care for them. For me, if I do care for them then I will always try and do what is best for them as long as I am in the position to do so. I will not hold or bite my tongue. I will take every opportunity I can to teach and train and share the insights and opinions that I have with my kids till they move out on their own. (ignoring the rolling of their pretty blue eyes if I have to.)

Is this an easy job? Nope. I want my kids to know that everything they do and everything they say is a reflection on them and their ability to do more and handle more or be offered more from those around them. Until they are in a position to write their own ticket, I have to help them see the path they are on and where it may be leading them. Will I always be right? Absolutely not. But I have more experience and I’ve either made those mistakes or watched other people make them to know that I have a better shot at guiding my kids then they do on their own.

If you don’t think “Everything Matters,” then look around you. Look at the news of late. Look at our leaders and our teachers, the athletes, the politicians and anyone who has any influence or our attention for a while in the world and tell me I am wrong when I say that “Everything Matters.”

8 Keys to Getting it Right:

  1. Attitude is everything
  2. Do the right thing
  3. Do more than you are asked
  4. Expectation = Disappointment
  5. Don’t make excuses
  6. Everything matters
  7. The 3 R’s: respect, responsibility, reputation
  8. Have a Spiritual Practice

Catherine Kolkoski

8 Keys to Getting it Right: Expectation = Disappointment

Welcome to blog post four in my series, 8 Keys to Getting it Right. If this is your first time being exposed to the series, I invite you to go back to the beginning and read them all. One post does not build on the other, so if one of the Keys has no interest to you, skip it!

The key “Expectation = Disappointment,” was introduced to me when I was at The University of Arizona by my friend and Sigma Chi big brother, Tod Carson. Of course, I don’t remember the situation surrounding the reason he shared it with me, but the learning has stayed with me for a very long time and I think it so valuable that I have shared it with my children and include it here.

I do remember that Tod had rightly accused me of always expecting more than I should which led to many a disappointment. But hey, isn’t that life? You have X amount of expectations only to end of disappointed X amount of the time. So, what’s a girl to do?

Learn to just be.

Don’t expect people to act in a certain way. Don’t expect friends to be a certain way or for opportunities to pan out in my favor or events to lead to happiness. Expectations can, and usually do, set you up for disappointment. Think about the last time you went somewhere that you didn’t want to go (i.e. party, play, concert). Most of the time, that event ended up being the most fun, or the most valuable for you. Why? You had no expectations.

I bet you’ve heard this before: you never find love when you are looking for it. You find love when you least expect it. Why? You least expect it. When I approach a situation armed with my set of expectations, I increase the chance I will be disappointed.

In my opinion, it is hard not to have expectations. For control freaks, it is doubly hard. Control = lack of control. The tighter you hold on- the more things slip through your grip. The more I try to control things, the more likely it is that I will mess things up. Letting go of expectations and control is not easy. Does that mean I don’t have expectations of my kids? Of course not. I’ve spent the last three posts sharing the expectations my husband and I have for my kids. My Kids have disappointed me and will disappoint me in the future. My unconditional love for them is what gives them a “do over” every time they have disappointed me. As parents, you do that for your kids and in my opinion, we should. I want my kids to know our home is the safe place for them to fail and fall. The people you can disappoint and get a fresh start again. Our friends and our colleagues don’t always get the same privileges. The relationships we have with them are different. When our expectations have gone unmet and we experience disappointment, we may tally those let downs on the internal scoreboard we keep. A disappointment that can’t be forgiven or one disappointment after another can end up jeopardizing our feelings towards friends or colleagues (and sometimes husbands and wives) and we may choose to eliminate the situation, job or the person from our life.

Just to be clear, having expectations is not the same thing as having a goal. A goal is something you do for yourself. An expectation is usually something you have for someone else. I can’t set a goal for you but I can have an expectation of you. See?

In my opinion, Tod gave me a valuable gift when he pointed out what I could not see; that my expectations were leading to disappointments and those disappointments were making me miserable.

Tod invited me to a New Year’s Eve Party at his parents’ house when I was 20 years old. I met a boy that night and we were married a few years later. Would you believe I was not expecting that?

– This post is dedicated to Tod’s parents Ed and Nadine Carson, may they rest in peace.

8 Keys to Getting it Right:

  1. Attitude is everything
  2. Do the right thing
  3. Do more than you are asked
  4. Expectation = Disappointment
  5. Don’t make excuses
  6. Everything matters
  7. The 3 R’s: respect, responsibility, reputation
  8. Have a Spiritual Practice

Catherine Kolkoski on Google+

8 Keys to Getting it Right- Do More Than You’re Asked

I am now 3 posts into my series on the 8 Keys to Getting it Right. If you are so inclined I invite you to go back to the first and second blog to read them. These keys are the values that my husband and I are purposefully trying to instill in our three wonderful children (Happy Birthday Brielle on Monday!) As anyone with kids can attest, all you can do is try. In my opinion, my failure as a parent comes when I don’t try, when I don’t communicate and I don’t take the lead as a parent. Hey, I know it’s not easy. I know that there are days when they don’t listen to my husband and me. But that does not stop me from being the parent. I am still the parent right? I mean, if you live in the house that we pay the mortgage on, drive a car that we make payments on, and eat in our kitchen- then check- I am still the parent and as long as you are my child then I will do my best to make sure you know what is important to me.

Do more than you're asked Sliding by. Doing the bare minimum. Are these the actions or values of any successful person you know? Is this the goal when your coach or your teacher or your boss asks you to complete a task? If so, then a life of being ordinary and average may well be your destiny. When our kids leave the house to go to their jobs (one works for FedEx and one for Cold Stone Ice Cream) the last thing my husband says is, “do more than you’re asked.” He is telling them to do more than people expect. Surprise everyone around you. Give it your all and leave nothing on the table. Amaze them and let them know that you are someone that needs to be kept around. When you do more than you’re asked you become more valuable than the next person. The people in charge will look to you as a valuable member of the organization or team or class. It goes to your attitude. It goes to your ability to achieve success, whatever success may mean to you. See, I am an options girl. I like to have lots of choices. I like to ensure that more often than not there is a range of possibilities. When you do more than you are asked, you open yourself up for more opportunities, more choices, and the possibility that you will get what you want in your life.

I think anyone can do what is asked. But the extra-ordinary do more. They take the initiative to make more out of any situation and thus become more valuable, less replaceable in their spaces in life. Will their teachers and bosses and coaches always notice? No. What matters just as much is what you do even when you don’t get the recognition and the pats on the back. Doing more than you’re asked is about personal ethics and making purposeful decisions to be that better player, that better student or better employee. No matter who notices or applauds.

In my opinion, doing more than you’re asked may get you more than you can possibly imagine.

8 Keys to Getting it Right:

  1. Attitude is everything
  2. Do the right thing
  3. Do more than you are asked
  4. Expectations = disappointment
  5. Don’t make excuses
  6. Everything matters
  7. The 3 R’s: respect, responsibility, reputation
  8. Have a Spiritual Practice

Catherine Kolkoski on Google+

Fitting in

In my opinion, we all want to fit in somewhere. To feel like we belong. A part of life is spent finding a fit with someone else (partner for life) and  finding a  fit with other people (i.e. a church home or a team or a job).  My son is trying to find a good fit in his relationship. He has been dating for a couple of years now. He has been frustrated and hurt but also had experiences of happiness. I remind him that dating is like trying people on. You try on different people to see which one fits the best. He said that it is annoying because he likes one thing about one girl a lot and another thing about the other girl. Obviously, each one has something that the other one did not. I tell him that is what you discover when you date . You begin to find out what you value most. The characteristics that are most important to you. What characteristics you can live with and which ones are deal breakers. In my opinion, he is a lot like me. He is relationship-centered. At 19 he “wants” to be in a relationship. He treats a young lady like a lady- he respects women and wants to have a relationship with someone he can carry on a conversation with, someone who has goals and dreams for her life. In that respect he is a lot like his father. (A blessing for me!)

No matter how old I get, I still want to fit in. In a world where values seem to alter and flux a bit, I have been trying to fit in. As I was thinking about this and getting coaching from my husband about my ideas and thoughts about  “fitting in” ( and he shared a lot of great insights with me) I remembered a line in a movie I saw a long time ago, “Why am I trying so hard to fit in when I really feel like I was born to stand out?”

In my opinion, in order to make a difference in the world, you have to be different. You can’t do what everyone else is doing- that’s already getting done. You have to go another way, do something counter-cultural, in order to affect culture.

I am telling you this as much as I am reminding myself.

To find the new trail you have to get off the beaten path. Turn around. No one may be following you and you have to be OK with that. If it is right, someone might follow. Your goal may not be to lead; your goal may be to have a partner, someone who shares your journey. Maybe that’s what family is for. (Ironic, how it always comes back to family for me.) Maybe it’s that way for you. Family doesn’t have to mean blood related, it can be mean someone who is willing to walk with you, support, encourage and give you feedback when you ask for it. Someone who feels like family.  We all need someone who is as committed to an idea or a mission as we are- one other person we fit with. When you have that, you have what you need. I think that’s what my son is looking for. He wants to share his journey with someone and since he is like me, he won’t settle for anything less than a perfect fit.

Happy Anniversary baby- Got you on my mind…

In the About page of this blog, I mentioned that I have been married 20+ years. This month is our 21st Anniversary. The fact that we’ve been married this long, is not luck. It’s not an accident. It is a choice. I choose to do the things that it takes to have a successful marriage. What those ‘things’ are, from my observations of other people, are different for every couple.

My husband and I dated for 6 years before we got married. I knew that this was the man for me the first time I danced with him when I thought he was going to kiss me (I swear my bottom lip was shaking). It took him another 5 years , 11 months and 3 weeks to know this. The ‘things’ that make or will make your relationship successful will be different from the ‘thing’ that makes our relationship successful. We have discovered, as we taught marriage preparation to engaged couples for 8 years, all couples have different ‘things’ that are deal makers for them. In my opinion, one of the keys to a long-term, successful union is discovering what that ‘thing’ is for you and your mate as soon as possible. For you it may be date night, or listening to one another or laughing a lot together or cooking together or praying together. For us, our ‘thing’ we discovered early was- unconditional support. We support one another’s aspirations, dreams and interests. That means that even if I don’t agree with something or can’t see the point of it, and it is  important to my husband, I support it. No matter what. Tattoos are not his favorite and yet, I have 3 of them. He actually paid for the most recent tattoo (yes, there will be another one someday). He has supported my desire to get my personal trainer certification and my professional choice and dedication of late. I supported his ‘boy trip’ to Chile over New Years and his desire to start and have his own business . There have been many other supported choices over the years for the both of us.

That is the ‘thing’ that works for us. In my opinion, finding that “thing” for you as a couple, as soon as you can and then hanging on to it with everything you have, could make the difference between celebrating 20 years or or more (hopefully) of marriage or…not.

So happy anniversary baby, got you on my mind…. and in my heart and soul. You complete me. (What can I say?  He likes the Jerry McGuire movie.)

You are a reflection of your parents

When I was growing up I believed this with my entire being. I believed this because my parents said this to me. I thought that what I did and how I behaved was be a representation to the world of what my parents taught me. My parents communicated the expectations that had for me and I tried, in many ways, to live up to them. Was I perfect? Heck no. But I was pretty good.

Some of the things I avoided that other kids around me didn’t were underage drinking and drugs. I never went to jail.   I wanted to do the right thing because my parents shared with me what the right thing was.

Kansas City has a curfew law. It goes into effect the Sunday after Memorial Day through the Friday after Labor Day: anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult after 9PM. There was a women on the news this week who received a ticket last summer because her 16 year old son was out past his curfew. The officer issued the ticket telling her that ‘you should know what your kids are doing and where your kids are’. I agree and disagree.

In my opinion, parents should know where their children are.  Problem is, there some kids who try super hard not let their parents know where they are, what they are doing and who they are doing it with.  I am wondering, due to the economy, how many kids won’t be working this summer. Bored kids have a tendency to make excitement in other ways.  In my opinion, kids today don’t think about how their actions will reflect on their parents, i.e. what the neighbors will think.  Many parents have not put the “you are a reflection of your parents” mantra in the hearts and minds of their offspring, like mine did.

My husband and I let our kids know.  In my opinion,  I think your kids should know what you believe and what you expect of them.  You should verbalize it.  That way they know. They may still make choices and decisions that will fly in the face of “being a good reflection on us.” Mine  have already.  They are not perfect. But at least they’ll have a measuring stick to go by.  I knew what ‘being a reflection of my parents’ looked like. Do your kids know what you expect?

For my parents…. Thank you.

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