As a parent, there are so many expectations we have of how our children are “supposed to” develop. Milestones that we expect them to reach by a certain age and if they don’t, we question,”Is there something wrong with them?” Society has thrown many markers at us parents for what “normal” child development should look like. And it messes the parenting process up all to heck.
When my son was two, he wasn’t speaking yet. The in-laws were worried he may be autistic. I knew he was just developing his physical skills first. But my husband insisted his worries were just as valid as the “other” parent so we got him a speech therapist. She had really cool toys to play with once a week with Eamon. Despite concerns, once he began talking, he did so in sentences very quickly . Expecting boys to be as verbal as girls will frustrate you.
Meanwhile, I really wanted him to be potty trained at the same time. I was super sick of all of that diaper business. But my wanting him to be potty trained seemed the very thing that he was punking out against. My expectations of him only served as a negative. Because if you want your child to do it, they will do the opposite. Reverse psychology is a brilliant tactic at any age.
So the question becomes, where do you stand with expectations? If you have none for your child, will they automatically expect themselves to do certain things that will guarantee them success. If you don’t expect them to go to college, will they expect themselves to? Probably not. They’re simultaneously interpreting your expectations as what their abilities are. If I don’t expect them to do something, is this my way of saying I think their incapable of it?
But expectations can also leave no room for individualism. If I expect my children to be straight and get married and they want neither, there may be a rift between us. Expectations need to be tempered with love and acceptance. You have to find the clutch point in the relationship. The point where your desires for them help them uphold themselves to worthy life goals but don’t push them away from you or who they think they are.
As always, parenting includes a lot of touch and run and a great dose of “Good luck with that.”
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