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.