My husband is an avid golfer. Maybe “was” is a more accurate description since very few fathers of three young children have the time or energy to cruise the greens for four hours several times a week, right?
Regardless, the guy was a beast with a driver and was so talented with the sport in his prime that it earned him a college scholarship and a state golf championship.
You can imagine the joy and expectation he had upon learning we were pregnant with our first male child. He had grand plans, envisioning the two of them putting, chipping and bonding together.
Our son’s nursery was even immaculately decorated in golf decor. The kid was bound for the PGA and hadn’t even taken his first breath.
Fast forward to our second child, a daughter. I couldn’t wait to share in all the extroverted, social experiences we would get to do together. She would love a microphone, performing and competition. I would cheer from the front row decked out in matching gear as her biggest fan.
Barely out of the womb and destined for success in the limelight.
I tell you all this to share that the hubs and I weren’t just kind of wrong in our premature assumptions of our children. We were on a completely different planet!
For example, our son lacks the patient, detailed disposition for golf and despised every minute of lessons and putting attempts with dear old dad. Epic fail.
Furthermore, I knew at six months my daughter would never thrive with a spotlight on her. For example, you could just look at her the wrong way and she would melt away in tears. Today, a stranger asks her name and she dies a slow death from shyness.
We learned a valuable lesson in the dangers of setting expectations on a person you don’t even know yet. I’m not talking about instilling values, independence, and responsibility but the expectations of exercising a set a predetermined interests and characteristics that one may not have been given in the gene pool.
Why is this dangerous?
Well, until we came to understand our children’s personalities, the disconnect in expectations and reality was a gigantic source of frustration and stress.
#1 The parent feels like a failure because they can’t get their kid to do what they expected them to do.
#2 The child feels upset because they are being asked to do something that is foreign and unnatural to them.
#3 There is a very real risk of damaged relationships, poor self-esteem and unsuccessful adult lives.
“Why won’t he practice like he is supposed to?” “It embarrasses me when my friends ask her a question because she comes off as rude!” “I don’t understand him or her sometimes.” Maybe you are someone who fell or has fallen into the same trap as we did. Kids don’t come with a birth certificate labeled “Boy bander” or “Accountant”. They just don’t. Us parents have to figure it out and that can take years.
My husband and I had to change our mindset. We began watching them more closely, researching their character traits in-depth and encouraging them in goals and activities that better mirrored their interests.
Interestingly enough, my eldest is more like his mother and our daughter is much more like her father. When kid number three came into the picture, we had enough experience under our wings that we chose not to set certain expectations on his little future.
If you are already a parent, about to be a parent or parenthood is years away, the principle presented here is still applicable:
What helps a person succeed in this life? Loving guidance, acceptance, and expectations of being the best “you” an individual can be.
We are certainly not perfect parents and our kids aren’t copybook children but we are seeing success at adapting healthier applications into our family. Only YOU can know your children like no other. You will be their best advocate because you care enough to learn who they really are in spite of what you thought they were going to be.
You’ve got this. Happy parenting!
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