Thursday, March 15, 2012

What are your expectations for your child?

As a mom, I try to have realistic expectations and goals for my child.  I know I have pretty big expectations of my child regarding getting good grades, going to some kind of schooling after high school, and her life after school as an adult (I'm hoping for her to wait awhile to get married, and then get married and have a kid or two)...  the biggest expectation for her is for her to be happy with her life.

I will also admit to having even bigger dreams for her (right now I can picture her as a lawyer or a scientist), and based on her current self-talk, she has some pretty big dreams for herself (of course hers are more on the rock-star side of things).

I have spent the last year+ working with differently-abled young adults and listening to what some of their parents have for expectations for them - and it's been a real eye-opener!!  After listening to them, I have been pondering what my true/real life-life expectations for my daughter should really be.  I am also wondering if I am actually teaching her life skills that will help her get there?
Confused??  Let me explain.

I've always said to my daughter  "I really don't care what you do so long as you're happy and independent".  (what I mean is - that you can be a dish cleaner, a salesman, an artist, a travel agent, a lawyer, a doctor, a dog-poop-picker-upper.  I don't care so long as you're able to care for yourself, provide for yourself, and you are happy).

Upon reviewing what I've been telling her, I am realizing that I'm not doing the best job of explaining what are my true expectations and hopes for her are.

So looking at what I've told her - this is the overall list of my expectations for her:
  1. She will finish high school and go on to some kind of additional education
  2. She will live an independent life (meaning support herself financially and be able to live on her own successfully)
  3. She will (some day) find an acceptable mate and some day have children
  4. She will have a life that SHE is happy with
  5. She will have a job or volunteer in some way that will be fulfilling for her
But are those expectations appropriate?  Are they realistic expectations?  Am I expecting too much or am I not expecting enough?  What about being fulfilled? Finding your dream job? Giving back/helping others?   I should also probably better-define what a "happy" life is.    And then beyond answering all of these questions --- how do I teach her life skills that will help her find success in those areas?  Perhaps most parents struggle with this?  Or maybe nobody does and I'm trying to figure out things that I shouldn't be worried about?  oh my.   I'm so confused!! 

I would love your feedback - if you're interested, please Click Here and fill out a quick survey that I made up about expectations for our children.  Thank you so much for doing so!  I will post responses later and of course, all information will be kept confidential.

On a slightly different note, I want to say - I am SO impressed with the parents of the differently-abled kids I work with!  Some of them experience more tough parenting challenges in a day than other parents do in an entire year.  The challenges that these parents and kids face make things like my child having girl-drama with her best friend seem like a petty annoyance, and it certainly makes getting a poor grade on a test seem pretty darned unimportant.  Hugs to you all and I will continue to keep you and your families in my prayers!

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