We enter the world as an innocent child. A blank slate ready to be scrawled upon with our own story. As we grow, we are infused with a combination of innate and environmental influences and expectations. Expectations to behave in a certain way, expectations that others place on us and expectations that we then in turn, place on ourselves.
Growing up I was fortunate to have parents who thankfully didn’t load me with too many expectations other than having good manners and being kind and respectful towards others. I was allowed to grow and evolve into who I am today. I made mistakes, I fell, I was picked up and I moved forward. And I learned along the way.
Now as a parent myself I am aware that many expectations that we, as parents, hold can linger over our children in a negative way. Expectations that they should do well at school, have a circle of good, respectable friends and expectations that they involve themselves in sports and hobbies. Then once they are older we expect from them a relatively smooth transition into the adult world by studying hard, getting a good job and settling down and having a family.
These general expectations have developed over time through our culture and the development of society and past generations. They are not necessarily wrong, but for our children they can indeed be a load to bare.
Let’s think about this for a moment from a child’s point of view.
What if the expectations we place on our children not only linger but weigh them down with guilt and shame when they cannot meet them? They develop a fear of failure and insecurities that are not necessary.
What if your child just isn’t an academic and school is a struggle? What if they are uncoordinated and hopeless at sport? What if they are a loner and find it hard to make friends preferring the company of their own imagination? What if when they grow up they don’t want a regular job? They want to be an actress or a wild life warrior? What if they are gay? What if they want to choose career over having a family?
Who is to say what is right and who is to say what is even, god forbid, and ‘normal’?
But what if you could lift these expectations off your children’s shoulders and remove the burden that just might be holding them back?
What if you could hand them their blank slate for them to write on themselves? Free from expectations, free from guilt. Simply arm them with the goodness of love and support allowing them to follow their heart?
If there is one thing at the forefront of my mind when it comes to my children, it is trying to raise them without laden expectations.
Of course I want them to have good manners and respect others; those are not negotiable. But many of the others are. The only expectations I want to have are that they do their best, listen to their instincts and never doubt themselves. I want them to be proud of themselves and have the self-respect to know that mistakes don’t make them a failure, they make them stronger and wiser. But most of all I want them to know that they are loved and supported for who and what they are – free of expectation.
It is not an easy thing to do.
Sometimes falling into the trap of society’s accepted norms is an easy thing to do, more natural even. It is then that we need to remind ourselves that freeing our children of expectations is as important as teaching them right from wrong, and doing so will have a profound impact on the adults they grow up to be.
Did you feel the weight of your parents’ expectations?
How are you being mindful of your expectations of your own children?
Jodi is a freelance writer, self-published business author, blogger and aspiring novelist. She also juggles being a wife and mother to four girls. You can read her blog here, or follow her on Twitter @jfgibsonwriter