This week I had the pleasure to meet a very nice younger woman. She was having some rare time on her own, as she is the mother of a four year-old and a six year-old. Still, the conversation focused mostly on our children. We talked about the inability to do anything – even go to the bathroom – alone when the kids are really young. She said that she was enjoying this age and she appeared a bit apprehensive about the teenage years.
Sensing her concern, I decided to share my perspective about the Terrible Twos, the Rebellious Teens, etc. I believe that although a particular child can be challenging, a lot of the behavior of children is connected to the expectations and words of their parents. If the parents expect the children will be brats or will be well behaved, they are most likely going to be correct.
Our expectations for our children and other things in our life drive both what we notice and how others behave towards us. We cannot disconnect our expectations from our words and our actions, which in turn affect the people around us. Thus, it is important to have the best possible expectations while maintaining a healthy balance of reality.
It is critical to expect our children to behave, our boss to treat us fairly, and our neighbors to be friendly. However, those objectives may not always be achieved. If we are in a situation where our objectives are repeatedly not met, we need to adjust our expectations. For instance, if our children continually get into trouble despite our expectations, it would be unreasonable for us to continue to think they were perfect angels. We should continue to love them. However, consequences are important. Otherwise, the message is that they can get away with anything.
Reality based on our expectations is not limited to interactions with family and close associates. Our expectations can affect every aspect of our day-to-day experience. For instance, if you believe you are better than others, they will perceive that and treat you with disdain. If you believe people in certain jobs are incompetent, you are likely to find those that are incompetent. Alternately, you will perceive people you encounter in that job as incompetent. Similarly, if you view people at the small café in town as friendly and outgoing, people will pick up on that expectation. Therefore, the people that you notice and who notice you will match your expectations.
Things do happen that you have no control over, but a majority of your reality is created by each of us every day. So, make it a good one!