Family Life relationships

Why we shouldn’t burden our children with expectation

expectations of our children

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

{photo credit: Kevin Conor Keller via photopin cc}

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  • Julie

    Thanks for this. I did feel the weight of my parents’ expectations and find it hard not to have expectations of my kids. I’m struggling with the not “normal” personality of one of my kids at the moment. I desire to nurture my child’s strengths, but find it hard to avoid focusing on the weaknesses.

    • Jodi Gibson

      Nurture is the perfect word Julie.

  • Shari

    My husband says I still do things to try and please my parents – but I’m okay with that. I don’t want to load my son with expectations, I am open to him writing his own unique story. Popping by from the Maxabella link up – Shari from

    • Jodi Gibson

      And what wonderful stories our children will write when they are given the chance.

  • Travelling Macs

    Such a pertinent message as the NSW HSC exams are on. Too much pressure is placed on these kids by parents trying to live their unfulfilled dreams through their children. We all want the best for our children but it shouldn’t be at he Spenser o our holdings true happiness that they choose of he selves. Crosby , Stills, Nash Nd Young had it write in their song “Teach your children well” . Found your blog on Maxabella’s weekend rewind …

    • Jodi Gibson

      I’ve seen the pressure some kids are under even to the point where they believe it is themselves setting their own expectations, but you can clearly see where it comes from. It kills their spirit.

  • Lilani Goonesena

    It’s a much discussed topic of parenting these days and then you wonder if we’re all just over-thinking things! As the youngest in our family, my parents (or rather, my father) placed expectations on the eldest sibling and not me. So, I got off lightly – in one sense.

    I don’t know that I think having expectations of your children (apart from kindness and good manners) are altogether a bad thing. Perhaps it helps to guide and push them a little – and some kids need that more than others. I wish that I had had more focus and a better work ethic in high school and my early 20s; so I plan to encourage and push my kids a little bit, to be all they can be. But I won’t presume to know what that is… it’s up to them to discover their destiny for themselves.

    Saying hi via maxabella’s link up

    • Jodi Gibson

      I think it all comes down to the approach.

  • Maxabella

    I have an expectation of my children that they will be kind to others, find their passion and reach their potential. The rest is up to them. I think any kind of expectation is a ‘bar’ to be reached, but I don’t mind that. x

    • Jodi Gibson

      The world needs more of those sort of expectations.