Becoming a better parent: Expectations

Our Westview team member, Terry Owens, continues our series, Becoming a Better Parent. In this article, Terry encourages us to have realistic expectations.

We all have expectations for ourselves, coworkers, teachers, and even our children. It is a part of who we are as human beings. When our child arrived in this world, we started developing expectations for our child. We as parents want our children to excel in everything they do, and we tend to focus on our expectations and not the expectations they have set for themselves.

When it comes to our expectations of our children, we need to be careful that we are not setting them through our unfulfilled personal needs. This is where we get into trouble. We should set our expectations based on the goals and objectives our children set for themselves. When we have discussions about their future, their grades, or the things they enjoy doing, we need to align our expectations with their goals. Having unrealistic expectations for our children leads to disappointment and even anger, either of which affects our relationship with our children negatively. Set realistic expectations that your children can achieve and praise them for achieving their goals. We all know grades are important in school but be realistic and help your child set sensible and attainable goals. Let your child know that your expectation for them is to do their best. Expecting anything greater than their best sets them up to fail, brings you disappointment, and undermines the parent-child relationship.

We also need to encourage our children to set realistic expectations for themselves. Kids today have a tough time navigating this world and tend to set unrealistic goals to meet the expectations of others. We need to listen to their thoughts and help them understand that what they want in life is essential; they should set small goals to achieve their ultimate goal. Praise the small achievements along the way to build their self-confidence.

Most of us don’t think about how social dynamics and academics can affect our children at school. Some children go to the same school their parents attended, or they follow a sibling who was popular or a high achiever academically. I was a second child, and teachers based their expectations of me on their interactions with my brother. I struggled until these teachers realized I dealt with life differently than my brother. So, we need to prepare our children for such expectations.

If your child is struggling in school and tells you their teacher doesn’t like them or they’re in trouble all the time, this may result from unknown expectations. Remember that our children need to know what is expected of them, and our expectations need to be realistic and attainable. Often a calm and respectful face-to-face conversation with the child, teacher, and parent can bring everyone’s expectations into agreement, giving everyone some peace.

We are here to be a resource for our community, so feel free to reach out to us. We are happy to assist if we can. (