Expectations Unfulfilled


Young children are raised with expectations placed upon them from others.  Parents, grandparents, family, friends, teachers and neighbors all have expectations for those around them.   Don’t hit.  Don’t talk back.  Be respectful. Finish your homework. Be on time…  This list can be large and generally well intentioned.  Most expectations are meant to mold children into productive, healthy, happy adults who can contribute to our society in positive ways.

What about the larger expectations often put on a child?  To serve in the military?  To attend the parents Alma Mater?  To follow in the parents footsteps and take over the family business?  To marry in the church?  Again, this list can be incredibly long.

Are these expectations reasonable?  Productive?  Healthy?

What happens to a child raised with these expectations who fails to meet or live up to those standards placed by another?

Many times when something goes awry in the life plan for a child be it personal choice, medical, mental or any other reason that would cause a child not to achieve the lofty expectations they have been raised with, the sense of failure can be extremely heavy and often a burden many carry for life.  The overwhelming personal grief in “letting” everyone down penetrates the soul like a cancer with feelings of self worth, self doubt and being a failure growing.

Often the sense of failure leads to poor choices in other areas of life.  For some, these become life sentences.  For others, it becomes an intensely personal battle to overcome the sense of failure many live with.

There are many in this world living with this sense of failure created by lofty expectations of others  Many you know most you do not.  They live with fake smiles while fighting extreme doubts of self and worth.  They continue throughout their life with the belief that they should have done more, been more or finished something, whether in their personal control or not.

We must create a culture where we encourage others to be successful in life while limiting the lofty expectations we place on them.  We must free our children from this burden of unfulfilled expectations that many of us live with in life and replace it with the belief that we can become anything we choose and encourage them to chase their own dreams and not ours.

32 thoughts on “Expectations Unfulfilled

  1. Happiness exists for no one when it is dependent upon an outcome, or folding an event only to their liking. I too had expectations on me, but years later both parties honor the different path I took. good topic, thanks for the cause to stop and think about it! 🙂


    • That is wonderful and the way all children should be raised. Thank you for setting such a great example for the rest of us. Letting children choose their own path is such an important part of being a parent thank you so much for your kind comments and continual support I appreciate it


  2. Another great post! I couldn’t agree with you more. (Another topic I’ve written about 🙂 ) I had a friend in tears almost every night for months because she wasn’t living up to the expectations a relative was placing on her in college. We all deal with expectations in one way or another and it is good to realize this is an issue so we don’t do the same to our children!


      • I like to think that great minds think alike! Or that the same Spirit that lives within us will certainly give us similar inspirations!! You are a great writer. Keep it up, you’re making a difference!


      • You are truly so kind! Thank you. I believe what you are saying about the source of inspirations. When someone seeks the truth the light we all carry in us is illuminated upon finding it. I find great inspiration in your writing, I am so happy to have discovered them. Thank you


  3. I think one of the keys is to look at each individual and see what gifts rise to the surface as they try new things and explore their talents. Allowing a child to decide how to spend their time and how much they want to be involved with a certain activity runs countercultural to societal pressures, and what a shame that is! Great post, I hope many parents read it!


  4. Other people’s expectations are a terrible thing, and can imprison us in negativity, and lack of self-belief. Thank you for the follow, happily returned. Travel safe on your life’s path 🙂


  5. Your focus on expectations that lead to a sense of failure leaves me wondering if you might agree that placing certain expectations on others, like a respect for life, are justified. I am guessing you do, just respectfully wondering. Thank you, by the way, for your interest in Gwichyaa Zhee. It is much appreciated!


      • Thanks for the clarification. I believe that, too. Some of my students come from homes where they are ignored and receive no clear direction for living. Self respect for some of them is non existent, a condition I believe stems from living in an environment where nobody has any expectations for them at all.

        You know how you can tell when somebody gives you a gift with strings attached? I think the kinds of expectations you speak of are like that – they come with strings. I soul breaking experience for anybody, I agree.

        One last question. Most parents have hopes and dreams for their children. Do you think those are a form of expectations and detrimental to the child?

        I’ve enjoyed our talk. Thanks very much for chatting.


      • The expectations I refer to in this post are regarding the child’s ability to become what they desire. An expectation for a child to serve in the military, or a religious mission, or attend a certain school or become a doctor or whatever become too burdensome for children.
        Expectations to be a decent human being, respect others and the property of others, and the to be a productive member of society are valid expectations, the ones that pigeon hole or limit a child to become what the parent wants is wrong.
        When a parent has dreams beyond raising a child into a well adjusted, self reliant, happy individual and the dreams are to be a doctor, attorney, etc it is wrong. Motivation, encouragement etc.. is valid.
        I continually show my children the difference in people between those that do not know how to work and those that do. Those who make education a priority in life and those that do not. I want them to see and understand the impact their personal choices make everyday in life and how those choices will affect their futures.
        If my children want to pursue a direction in life that makes them happy and fulfilled, while at the same time making them self reliant. I support and encourage that,

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes! My parents raised me that way, too. And I hope I have done as well for my children. Watching your children choose who they will become is such a gratifying experience. Thanks for the great chat!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. oh boy this is most poignant with my post i’ve just done, though i haven’t talked about expectations for or of my children it most definitely emanates our style of parenting, be it good or bad!! loved this post James 🙂


  7. Hi Jisbell.. Thank you so much for the follow on my blog. I so truly appreciate it. I love your writing, it connects, you connect. I would love to read about world from your experience and through your writing. Lovely blog posts.



  8. Last year I wrote a piece called ‘A Heavy, Uncomfortable Truth’ for a poetry collection called Damage Over Time (http://thebittervoice.wordpress.com/poetry/), comparing what we’re taught in school with the realities of the so-called ‘real world’. It’s overwhelmingly the case that what we’re taught just doesn’t exist in reality, that they’re not put into practise. Visit a doctor’s office, listen to what happens in commercial sectors or simply take a look at the way people treat one another on a daily basis. We’re not prepared for the so-called real world and yet we’re expected to not only be a productive part of it but to accept that this is really how things should be, that this is what we being prepared for all along.

    Our culture needs to change and this change cannot happen without real importance put on education and learning, not token gestures or varying standards from state to state. We need to embrace education in both the sciences and the arts, we need to not be afraid to have standards and, most importantly, for any of this to start we need to be able to come to terms with just how fucked we are and how much of a mess we’ve made of the current state-of-affairs. Until we face the mistakes we’ve made and continue to make we can’t learn from them…and we’ll just keep down the path we’re currently on.


  9. Very well said! I think your blog is very insightful and full of great wisdom.

    I hope you don’t mind me following your blog and occasionally reflagging. I hope I can be as great a writer as you when I grow up……


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