How to Manage Disappointment: When Kids Don’t Live Up to Your Expectations

Any parent knows that we should encourage children to be themselves and not mold them into “Mini Me’s.” However, sometimes this is easier said than done.

photo of a person leaning on wooden window

Photo by Dương Nhân on Pexels.com

Even if our kid isn’t going to be the next Serena Williams or Bill Gates, we all have SOME expectations. We might want them to excel in music or sports or be social or get straight A’s or be a master chess player. This may because this is something that we realized as a young person or because we see a spark in them and want them to develop that spark into something brighter.

In many cases our children will disappoint us at some point in our lives. It might be that they date someone we’re not crazy about or fall in with the “wrong” crowd at school. They might fail certain subjects or not have friends.  If our child has a mental health challenge, this can be even more disappointing – I’ve recently read of parents who were saddened by their teen not going to prom or not going to college or university when it seems like every other teen on the planet is doing just that.

man wearing black suit jacket with teal bowtie

Photo by Kam Pratt on Pexels.com

How do we separate ourselves from our children and allow them to grow and develop into the best version of themselves? Do we need to take a step back and realize that our expectations are unreasonable – or try to temper them accordingly?

With a tween and a teen, it seems that one of my kids is constantly testing me: just when I think they’ve achieved something or moved beyond a certain nagging problem, something else crops up. Honestly, it can be very hard to digest and deal with at times. For me, there are certain expectations that are non-negotiable: show up for school on time; pass all courses; get a good night’s sleep; take care of personal hygiene and chores; have a good attitude; show up for family dinner and to family events…

These are very basic things. I expect my kids to go above and beyond those basics and to achieve something more. However, sometimes even these basics are not achieved! That can be frustrating at best. Even if learning disabilities or mental health challenges get in the way, I still expect my children to try their best and not to make excuses. 

Have you experienced frustration when dealing with what you think are basic expectations? Does your child’s mental health challenges get in the way? I’d love to hear what you think and how you deal with these dilemmas.

Yours in the parenting trenches,

Lisa

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