Has your child ever played opposite day with you— A day where they did the exact opposite of what you asked or expected of them? How often does your child do the opposite of what you have asked of them, or perhaps do nothing at all?
When we bring this into our awareness it allows us to examine our own expectations. Think about what you expect from your children and family. What if we had fewer expectations of our kids? I know this may sound like mayhem could erupt, however, when we actually have fewer expectations, we are able to show up more consciously in the present moment.
In order to reevaluate our own expectations, we can look at what is important to us. What values matter most to you? Because we can’t possibly integrate every single value under the sun, we find the ones that feel most pertinent to us and instilling in our family. Use these values to create routines, set boundaries, and interact and engage with your children.
Expectations can lead to disappointment—for both parents and children. It can lead to significant shame and low self-esteem. Children’s sense of self develops in the context of how they are perceived by their parents. When parents have expectations that are difficult for the child to meet or contradict who the child is, they tend to conform and lose their sense of self or develop a deep sense of shame for repeatedly not meeting our expectations. As such, it is important to foster values-based expectations that not only honor our needs as parents, but also honors the child in front of us for who they are.
As you let go of expectations, consider how you can bring more joy for both yourself and for your child? We expect to eat breakfast in the morning – but what if we have dessert instead? While this is a far-fetched example, consider why. What are we telling ourselves about eating dessert for breakfast? We have been taught, conditioned, and trained to expect breakfast for breakfast. While this is just an example, consider how it extends to other things we have been conditioned to believe. If we let go of such expectations, how might it improve our own emotional state and our connection with our children?
Experiment with your own behavioral expectations of yourself and your children. What would it be like to engage them in the process? Perhaps a first step to challenging your own conditioned beliefs could be eating dessert for breakfast one day! The opportunity for attention, awareness, and growth is endless.
For more support in challenging your own conditioning, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.