My Peculiar Expectations
If you are reading this, I know you are constantly striving to do your best as a parent (or grandparent, interested aunt, uncle or friend). I know I am!
The trouble is that a lot of how we parent is not consciously taught. We haven’t decided to parent in a certain way because of a particular book or article. We may have got some tips from reading things over the years, but we mostly parent our kids with deeply held beliefs and ingrained behaviors from our own upbringing.
Usually our little families fare okay from this combination of trying to do the right thing and intuitive parenting. Sometimes, however, it is worth shining a spotlight on our parenting practices and asking ourselves if they are the best we can do.
After a few days away, just the kids and I, I had some space to observe some of my parenting expectations. I have decided that I need to question some of the more peculiar expectations on my kids.
Examples of Peculiar Expectations
One of the things I expect my kids to do is share or take turns with toys. Of course, learning to share and being able to be patient are good things to learn. However, I wouldn’t like it if I was told to share MY toys. I don’t want anyone else to use my iPhone, laptop, even my new drink bottle! Especially if a birthday boy or girl is given a new gift, I completely understand him or her not wanting to let others have a turn. It is a brand new toy! Other kids could damage it or run off with it. From now on, however controversial this may seem, I won’t be so quick to admonish my kids for not sharing or taking turns.
Another thing I have been guilty of in the past is simply expecting my kids to want to go up to and possibly even pat dogs, cats, rabbits and other pets. In a similar vein I just assumed most kids would want to be curious about and even pick up spiders, insects and various creepy crawlies. Not all kids have any desire to be that up close with nature, something I completely understand, as I certainly don’t want to touch spiders or bugs. I am not sure why I would expect my kids to get up close and personal with any creature if I wouldn’t do it too.
I also expect my kids to be okay with occasional periods of boredom. I really want them to be able to find ways to cope with boredom, learn patience and find ways to entertain themselves with their own imagination. This is very important to me… and yet… and yet… at every opportunity that I could be bored – waiting in line etc. – I pull out my phone. Every time! I don’t let myself be bored so how can my kids learn to do it? On our car trip recently, the kids had no screens, we didn’t listen to audio stories and they had only a couple of toys to play with. Yet they coped very well. They looked out the window, noticed things, happily joined in with some games of ‘I Spy’ and were generally very well behaved. I often felt bored and wanted to reach for my phone – and as I was driving that was out of the question.
Types of Peculiar Expectations
So the expectations we can have on our kids can be peculiar because we would never do the behavior ourselves (share new gifts) or we don’t take consideration of what a particular child actually likes to do (picking up insects) or because we don’t hold ourselves up to the same standard (being okay with being bored). There are probably other types of peculiar expectations I – and other parents – have on our kids as well.
So what to do with all these peculiar expectations? I guess it is a step in the right direction that I have some awareness around this now. Next step – as guru, Tony Robbins, advocates is to “trade your expectations for appreciation”. Every time I come up against a peculiar expectation I will try to alter it so I express some gratitude instead. At the very least, focusing on being grateful will help me stop feeling so bored!