Tag Archives: expectation

A beautiful mayhem

A television ad caught my attention recently when it described family life as ‘beautiful mayhem’. Across my 16 years as a parent I have sometimes used ‘organised chaos’ to describe the mundane activity of family but never beautiful mayhem.

Family epitomises something which can be in equal measure beautiful and chaotic. Frustration for parents arises when we expect it to be solely one or the other.

Parents (I’m looking at myself right now!) can set the bar too high, expecting that family life is meant to be some form of beautiful simplicity; smooth-sailing with compliant children, parents managing outcomes as they navigate the parenthood path. The converse is also true – an expectation that family life equals pure mayhem, chaos following disaster with parents resigned to a lack of control and influence. The reality is somewhere in between – this ‘beautiful mayhem’.

A challenge I’m all too aware of is seeing the beauty amidst the mayhem and calling that out. We can routinely allow cherished moments to pass by without bringing them to the surface, archiving them as lost in the mayhem. Our kids then recall only the chaos, the challenge, the confusion.

As parents we need to train our eyes and our hearts to create, identify and reinforce the beauty of each situation. This will equip our kids with an instinct for finding the beauty which then positions them to bring encouragement and life.

In the midst of chaos, we can feel overwhelmed, weighted down by the challenge. As parents we have to decide that we will do things differently, view situations with a fresh set of eyes. This starts with how we view our role as a parent.

Are we there to simply ensure our kids survive until adulthood when they’re on their own? Or are we called to equip our kids with the tools (attitudes, beliefs and practical skills) for them to be life-bringers? By adjusting how we see our critical role as a mum or dad, we will not only impact how we parent but also the destination to where our parenting guides our family.

Amidst the mayhem, what are you doing to call out the whimsical, the fun, the ridiculous, the beauty?


A 5-year-old ability does not yield a 12-year-old result

Running a family isn’t all beer and skittles you know, sometimes there’s work to be done! The lawn needs to be mowed, clothes washed and ironed (sometimes), beds made, rooms tidied, dishes done, floors mopped, bathrooms refreshed, toys packed away and so on. This stuff isn’t necessarily enjoyable but it’s the practical side of a building a family.

Team Mahoney is, well, a team. Not always a highly functioning team but a team nonetheless! Being a team we’re all responsible for the effective running of our home and as such there is a clear expectation that we will each contribute. A key I have learnt though is that whilst I have an equal expectation that we will each contribute, I need to have a different expectation as to outcome.

The simple fact is my 5-year-old has a different capacity to my 12-year-old and therefore a different outcome must be expected. I need to balance the anticipated result with the team member’s actual ability along with their application. If the ability is lacking (from my perspective), then this could simply be a function of age as well as how effectively the “how” has been demonstrated. Importantly, Team Mahoney have a number of age-specific tasks. For instance, my 5-year-old is a gun with matching socks and putting his clothes away – that’s his contribution to the laundry!

Accepting the varying outcomes also means that the work may have to be redone. Not immediately in the presence of the one who first attempted, but at a later time. Either that, or we need to be content with a result that is less than we would expect from ourselves (or an older sibling).

So if we want to ensure that each family member is afforded equal opportunity to contribute, then we need to accept different outcomes, and we need to equally praise the outcomes based on effort. Happy parenting!


Photo: Royalty free image purchased via 123RF Stock Photos

Dreams arise!

Dreams – we all have them. Sometimes we try to ignore them or beat them down, already feeling defeated by the circumstances of life.

What we need to do is to allow these dreams to rise within us, for us to then become larger so we can inhabit the dream. Much like balloons, dreams could be filled with hot air so they’ll tend to float around for a bit before drifting back to the ground. Others are helium-filled, purposeful and rising confidently, onwards and upwards. Still others tend to POP, irrespective of their contents.

What I’ve learned is you need an almost endless supply of balloons. When one bursts (and it will!), inflate another and set it free. As they rise, we too can rise and create a bigger, more purposeful future.

Let DREAMS rise!

Photo: Used with permission via 123RF Stock Photos

Finding the joy

Not too long ago, I had the privilege of enjoying one of my son’s school Christmas Chapel. Complete with musical recitals, dancing, carols, puppets and a lively retelling of the Christmas story, I can honestly say I had fun. Not everything hit the mark, as is to be expected when dealing with 5-9 year olds en masse, however I realised that was part of the fun.

Often in life, we can be quick to identify those things that don’t quite reach the benchmark. What I noticed about the students performing, was that they, on the whole, were oblivious to technical mishaps, mis-timed sequences and incorrect words. They were simply enjoying themselves!

In some situations, the joy is easy to find. If you go along to the movies to see a comedy (real comedy, not Adam Sandler!), then you carry an expectation of enjoyment. However, in many situations the challenge and the errors seem to be standing tall, demanding your attention. The joy in these moments is still likely to be there, but it requires searching.

It really depends upon for what we’re looking. If we’re focused on identifying the mistakes, we will find them. If we’re focused on squeezing every drop of fun out of the situation, we will. Naturally, not every event is one of joy, but this still should not allow us to be the merchants of doom and gloom.

My challenge to you today is to find the joy!


Photo: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Diamond or stone?

American singer / songwriter John Denver (yep, check out the link if you’re born post 1970!) famously sung “some days are diamond, some days are stone”. Whilst this accurately depicts life generally my experience tells me it is particularly apt for fatherhood.

The diamond days are characterised by a parent and child sharing a common agenda, high level of engagement from all parties and collective positive expression of energy. Stone days are quite the opposite when you wonder if these children could possibly have been mistakenly swapped at birth and do, in fact, belong to someone else…

The bottom line for me as a dad to four boys with very distinct personalities is to not expect every day to be diamond. Just as I can have an “off” day so too can my boys. The funny thing is though, when I have an “off” day the likelihood of at least one (and usually 2 or 3) of the boys sharing this “off” day with me significantly increases. Talk about kindred spirits!

It took me some years (ok, slow learner here) to realise but if my boys don’t live up to my behaviour expectations, I need to first look at my attitude. If I’m engaged with them, smiling, positive and setting an expectation for fun then there’s a much greater chance that this is what will transpire. There’s also a chance it may not – some days are stone after all!

So if you’ve endured a stone day, set an expectation and attitude for a diamond day tomorrow.

Photo: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos