Expectations. Am I right? We all have them for everything and everyone. We expect certain outcomes for a certain effort. We expect someone to be happy when we give them something they want or delighted when we surprise them with a party. We expect to be loved back when we love hard and openly. We expect…
Yeah, soooo, so much for that. I believe we all know where this gets us. Minimally, disappointed, and on from there.
‘ I don’t understand why she wasn’t happier for me when I got my new job?’
‘ Why isn’t he more excited that I bought him that shirt he wanted?’
‘ Why isn’t he cleaning up when he knows it will earn him a snack?’
Expectations bury us in a corner of disillusionment. They run our lives and victimize us. They can create a situation where, ultimately, we are relying on the other to give us a sense of ourselves; of our happiness; of our self worth; of our influence. And, in return, when we don’t receive the response we expect, we might judge the other and allow our disappointment to color the character of that person.
In truth, what we are really missing here is a strong sense of self. If we have ourselves then living without expectation becomes easier. We cannot control the reactions of others and therefore we have no responsibility or play no natural part in another’s response to our stimulus, ie. Giving a compliment.
Therefore, if we come from the position of, ‘you do you and I’ll do me,‘ we take the onus off of ourselves as reliant upon others to define us and perhaps we stop defining others based on one or more reactions.
I am not talking about expectations of basic humanity, of following rules for safety, respecting others and doing no harm. I am talking about what we, as adults, expect our children to become. And here, this requires a mindful and open approach, complete with respect for an individual who may happen to be your child.
Reach Them Within Their Realm
Take your child. How realistic are your expectations of how they should be behaving and responding to your parenting? How much of this is based on your need for control, authority and recognition?
I think, often, we unintentionally get so caught up expecting our children to “be” what we want them to be, that we are not seeing who THEY ARE. I believe this is the point where parent/child relationships succeed or fail.
Your child is not your possession. This is what we need to establish from the start. I don’t know if you’ve ever felt you were your parent’s possession; I suspect many people have. I certainly can speak to that in terms of feeling like I had to become something close to what my father identified as, “successful,” in life. The problem was that he never took the time to meet me where I was. I was not the businessman, lawyer, engineer, etc. type.
I was more creative and my interests were not working on cars each Saturday, but rather more artistic pursuits. Unfortunately, those pursuits were left for me to explore later in life, when I was out on my own because, in my youth, my time was filled with the expectations of another.
I explored, early but not often, my instinctual interests as a child. I loved drawing characters and imitating famous people.
Imagine what we are doing to our children by not learning who they are. Every human being, no matter their physical, emotional and mental state deserves the opportunity to be met and noted for their individuality and not as the “property of.”
I’d like to get rid of the word ‘expectation’ and supplant it with ‘hope.’ These are goals to strive for. Make these hopes realistic to your child’s capabilities. Hoping high is great, but hoping beyond reach is defeating and sets your child up for failure that can influence how they perceive themselves for a lifetime; and in the moment can cause escalated upset. Our responsibility is enormous.
It is incumbent upon us to shape our children with moral and ethical guidance. It is incumbent upon us to model good citizenry. It is incumbent upon us to avail our children to opportunities. But most of all, it is incumbent upon us to know when to step aside and let the tree take root and grow in its own way.
We can do this by simply putting our ego aside and LISTENING to our children, above all else.
Peace and Keep On Rising!