Expectations Affect Our Children By…
As parents we’ve often been told that it’s important to set certain expectations for our children or risk having them be failures in life. …Okay, so the messages aren’t quite that bold, BUT the underlying message does hit on a nerve that creates the fear of failing our children.
With that fear fully engaged, we often buy into the old paradigms of what society, parents, media, and peers say we “should” be expecting of our children.
- Behave a certain way so they are well liked
- Start activities early so they don’t fall behind
- Always play with (or hang out…for the older kids!) other kids so they don’t feel left out
- Say yes to all invitations so they don’t miss out on opportunities
- Keep their opposing thoughts to themselves in case they are judged
- Buy brand name clothes or the latest technology to fit in with their peers
Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do any of these things, and shouldn’t have any level of expectation. Of course not! What I’m saying is we need to manage our expectations so that they are encouraging versus hindering; uplifting versus heavy.
Having been a teacher, therefore exposed to many students, I know the importance of setting expectations with children, especially teenagers, so that they can begin to see possibilities and greatness within themselves. At times children need us to set a standard of expectation that they haven’t set for themselves. It gives them something to reach for. For some, we need to love and expect the best from them until they love themselves enough to also expect the best from themselves.
BUT, when these expectations come with rigidity, expected compliance, and an inflexible sense that we always know what’s best for them, the ramifications of these expectations cause our children to grow needing to “recover’ who they are as adults.
When you expect them to:
- keep busy in a number of sports so they stay out of trouble
- play with the “right” kind of kids
- babysit even though they don’t enjoy it
- have the same opinions and beliefs as you
- stay in piano lessons even though they hate it
- be the top in their class even though academics isn’t their strong suit
- go to college even though they want to pursue the arts
…You are setting them up to no longer listen to their inner guidance; their inner voice; their intuition.
This leads to a culture of people pleasers, over achievers, over analyzers, and perfectionists (ahem…yes, I may be describing myself in that list) who rely on outside sources to help them make choices. When children disconnect with who they are without direction from their inner guidance, it results in lack of fulfillment and meaning, which can often lead towards varying degrees of depression.
How do you know when you’re coming from a place of your own rigid expectations versus a place of unconditional love and acceptance for your children? The typical response is anger! We get angry when our expectations are not met. And this is a clear indication you are not coming from a place of understanding them, loving them, and accepting them. This is a clear indication that your own “stuff” is interfering.
Even if they do make a mistake, need to correct their behaviour, or could respond in a different manner, you don’t feel the need to respond in anger when you come from a place of love and acceptance. Anger is resistance to others not adhering to what you view as “right.”
It is these fears that create unreasonable, unattainable, and unhealthy expectations for our children. And it is these expectations that are causing a disconnection with knowing who they truly are, as well as being able to listen and respond to their own intuitive hits.
It’s important to recognize that these fears and expectations come from your own upbringing and your past wounds, and they lead you to parent from the ego, instead of parenting with soul.
It’s only when we allow our own past conditioning and fears to hinder our children’s growth that we fail them…and even then failure is too strong a word. It simply means that up to this point you have been blinded by the past and current expectations that were put on you. It’s time to let them go.
Stay tuned for my next blog that further discusses the spectrum of expectations.
Trisha Savoia is founder/owner of Absolute Awareness, and creator of the The Integrity Code, and The Soulful Parent Courses. Through her courses, writing, and speaking she uses her skills, experience, and intuition as a mother, teacher, Life & Parent Coach, and Clinical Hypnotherapist to help guide parents to recover their true selves and their intuition, while at the same time learn how to parent so their children can do the same.