Sometimes I’ll see people and they’ll say, “You are such a good mama,” and I think “I am not your mother, you have no clue how my kids feel about being parented by me.” Most parents are parenting what they needed in childhood. They’re not parenting the actual child they have, and in giving their child what they needed, they may miss the mark on meeting their child’s needs. You may have needed more hugs growing up and end up parenting a child who doesn’t like to be hugged.
We don’t just do this with our children. We create ideas about what a relationship should look like, or who a person is and behave in accordance with those narratives. We become so inflexible with these ideas that we cling to them even when they don’t work for us.
Rather than becoming attached to these preconceived notions, we need to instead be in relationship with the person and not with the idea of what the relationship should be. In order to do that we have to really get to know people. We have to deliver information in a way that they can hear it, and we must recognize that everything isn’t going to work for everybody. We have to move past what we think people may need to make space for the reality of what they actually need.
I remember I had a baby shower and folks wanted me to open gifts. There was this expectation that I had to open them because that’s what you do at a baby shower. There is this assumption that people like opening gifts in front of others, but I hate it. I think opening gifts is private and I don’t need to do it in front of a room full of people. Me not opening my gifts at the party had nothing to do with my enjoyment of the party or my gratitude for what I had been given, it had everything to do with the fact that I just don’t like to do it.
A certain amount of adjusting our expectations is normal and natural inside of a relationship. This does not mean that we ignore our boundaries, but we do have to realize that everything we need and expect from a relationship, may not be reflected in someone else. It often won’t.
There are some basic things that children need from their parents. There are some basic things that friendships and partnerships need, but outside of that, we have to craft our relationships to fit the people in the relationships.
How do your expectations of your relationships compare with reality?
How does what you need inside of your relationships differ from what people might assume you need?
How a Couple’s Body Language Can Subtly Affect Their Relationship, by Sarah Regan on Mind Body Green.
The Office. I randomly stumbled on an old episode of The Office on TV the other day. In the episode Pam is wearing glasses, and Michael says “Ugh! You look so bad, why do you have those on?” And I’m just sitting there laughing thinking about how no one could ever say that to someone at work in real life. It’s such a funny show. I’ve been watching old episodes ever since. Sometimes I feel like life requires nostalgia and that nostalgia feels good. Watching a movie you’ve seen before or watching a show you know is going to make you laugh can be comforting. What is your go-to show that makes you feel good? You can watch The Office on Peacock.
Has there been a time when someone’s expectations of a relationship clashed with your own? Tell me about it in the comments!