There is a saying that goes: Expectations are premeditated resentments. A universal truth in any relationship is assuming all the ways that another person should, could, or would behave, and feeling disappointed when these expectations aren’t met. The same goes with our children. We have so many aspirations for our kids, and our love for them is beyond a shadow of a doubt. We want to give them the best life possible and often, that means giving them all that we were deprived of when we were growing up. But in return, are you expecting too much from your child? Read up on some ways that can help tell you if you are.
A study suggests that pushy parents try to live vicariously through their children because they see them not as individuals, but as extensions of themselves. The more that parents see their child as part of themselves, the greater the likelihood is of them wanting their offspring to fulfill their own failed dreams, researchers found. So before you nudge your child toward a certain path or hobby, ask yourself: Is this what my kid wants or is this what I would’ve wanted for myself, given the opportunity?
Sometimes the sole motivation of comparing your children to others is to instigate a sense of competition in them, but no two people are the same. Your child will have his own individuality–different interests, strengths, talents, and speeds of adaptability. Albert Einstein wrote, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” When you compare your child to others, you are expecting them to be more like someone they are not. That can only be hurtful, even if that’s not your intention.
“Micromanagement goes against natural development,” says clinical psychologist and author Marc Nemiroff, PhD. “It takes away the child’s experience and impedes his learning how to handle himself in the world. Part of the job of the parent is not to do everything for the child, but to help him do things more and more independently.” That means allowing your child to make more decisions for himself or herself–decisions like what s/he chooses to wear, whether or not s/he did his homework, or what activities s/he does with his or her free time. Interfere less and learn to trust that it is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.
There is nothing wrong with setting appropriate boundaries. But, parents who frequently argue with teachers, coaches, and other caregivers about their rules or the way their child is treated may deprive kids of the benefit of learning to adjust in different environments. As the saying goes: “Prepare your child for the road, not the road for your child.”
For many parents, it becomes a habit to treat each test, competition, or performance like it’s the only one that matters. Turn on any reality show like Dance Moms or The Voice Kids and see. Unfortunately, these kinds of influences seep into our everyday experiences. Real life isn’t as dramatic as television. Try reminding yourself–and your child–that there are many opportunities to shine and the outcome of most events aren’t going to be life-altering. When you relax as a parent, your children will realize that they don’t have to jump through hoops to win your approval. The truth is, we love our kids unconditionally. We only need to show them more that we do.