// Evan Hampton, CK Brand Manager //

Perhaps you’ve seen some of those “expectation vs. reality” videos or memes online. You might put on a cute outfit and expect it to look amazing on you, but reality in the mirror tells you a different story. You have an expectation of your tropical vacation, but in reality it’s monsoon season when you arrive. I’m learning how to help my kids deal with their own expectations vs reality scenarios.

Our oldest son, Brantley, will be 8 soon. He just started doing Basketball with a kids league in our area. They teach the basics of dribbling, warm-ups, passing, etc. When he practices in our driveway, he likes to shout “Kobe!” as he shoots the ball. I imagine that his expectation is it’ll swish through the basket, and he’ll take an epic slow motion dance around the driveway bragging about his skills. But, in reality, the ball doesn’t come anywhere close to the basket, and his deflated ego has to run into our yard to retrieve the ball and try again. Reality can sometimes be so frigid and eye-opening.

Luckily, it’s just basketball, and he will grow and learn and get better at the sport. Contrary to popular belief, all of the great athletes weren’t born that way. They had to work at it and face their own expectations vs. reality until those two things aligned. But what about the tougher things in life our kids will face?

At the start of every school year, the prayers and expectations we have as parents is that our two boys will make amazing friends and apply themselves to the importance of an education. Sometimes that reality lines up perfectly, and it’s great. Other times, however, we might hear about the frustrations of understanding the school work, or even bullying. That deflates our ego as parents as we scramble to pick up the pieces of our child’s hurt and mold them back into excitement, confidence and understanding.

I think for all parents, it’s important to navigate our expectations together with the expectations of our children. Get on the same blank canvas together and create something colorful together that we can all understand so our kids know how to approach a situation and we as parents know how to coach them through the situation. Prepare the hearts and minds of our children to anticipate any and every reality.

Just like with our son and his basketball I explain to him that this is just the beginning. If you enjoy basketball, we can keep growing in the program and get you the right coaching to get you there. But son, you also need to understand that you might end up not liking it or you might not be that good at it, and that’s ok. God created you and your talents for another avenue and we’ll find it. Just have fun no matter what. If you step out onto that court expecting to have a good time then in most cases you will do just that.

And that’s the same with every hurdle the reality of life wants to lay down on the track of our child’s expectations. If we coach them through those expectations and how to handle any possible reality, they will successfully navigate those hurdles and leap over them effortlessly. Then, as parents, we’ll be off to the side doing our own slow motion dance on the sidelines bragging about our children, and bragging about our Heavenly Father who created that blank canvas in the first place that He helped us to paint on with bold and vibrant colors.

Our children can’t go through life alone without the help of their parents support through those expectations, just like we can’t go through life as children of God without the help of our Father supporting us as well. And, even if the reality doesn’t line up with our expectation. That’s ok. God will tell us to go grab the ball, take another shot and make that perfect swish in the basket. It will happen, and that’s the only true reality that matters. Expect nothing less.

Evan is originally from Lynchburg, VA. He married his wife, Christina, in 2010 in Atlanta where they met. Evan is also an award-winning wedding photographer. They’ve been residents of Jacksonville, FL since 2010 where they raise their sons, Brantley and Beckett. When not at home, they can be found at Walt Disney World or delighting in the tasty goodness of Chick-fil-A.