Managing Expectations

Don’t you hate being let down?

I hate getting my hopes up only to have them “kaiboshed” when things don’t turn out the way I want.

Most of all, I hate when people closest to me don’t behave the way I expect and disappoint me.

I know I am an adult and I will get over it, but try explaining it to a little kid.

My youngest daughter is one of these people who expect big things out of people and out of life. Good for her I suppose.
Its in her DNA. Maybe its because she would bend over backwards to help a friend in need. Maybe its because she is young and an eternal optimist, never having really been let down. Sure, we have told her no a thousand times before when she asks for things she wants, but it is ten times worse when a person she considers as a very close friend lets her down by not being aware of how her actions have hurt her.

This is what happened recently at school and I had to comfort and calm her as emotions got the best of her.

This “best friend”, has a bit of a history of not being overly respectful and considerate….not because she dislikes my daughter or has a vendetta against her, its simply because she doesn’t realize how her actions impact others around her. Maybe other girls are thicker skinned then my kid but I don’t really care. My kid is emotional and proudly thin-skinned.

While it’s not my job to fight her battles…all I can do is listen to her and sympathize with her and be “on her side”; supporting her as much as she needs me to.

What is amazing about what she is going through is that she is innocent and sees the best in people. She expects people to treat her in the same way she treats them.

Is there something wrong with that kind of thinking? I don’t think so.

As I consoled her most recently, I found myself saying things that I thought I would never say to my daughter…especially at her age.

I told her not to have expectations. I told her that if she has expectations, she will get easily hurt and disappointed. However, if she doesn’t expect anything from anyone or anything, she will only be pleasantly surprised when something unexpectedly good happens.

Am I wrong for bursting her bubble at such a young age? Am I ruining her innocence by being brutally honest? When do you tell your kid that the world can be a pretty cold and miserable place that is sometimes filled with upset and disappointment? We all know that life can let us down sometimes….either someone who you believed to be one way, turns out to be another or someone who you have emotionally invested in suddenly turns on you for no apparent reason.

Its hard enough for a grown up to deal with disappointment. What’s it like for a kid?

I am not suggesting that my young daughter is curled up on her bed distraught and devastated by the actions of her friend. Unlike many adults, she got over her feelings of disappointment and let-down and rebounded quite quickly. This is one quality in being a kid that we often don’t carry with us into adulthood; adults tend to dwell on things and to let them build and build. Kids, for the most part, just brush it off and easily forget.

I have tried very hard, in recent years, to lower my expectations of people and events. I have often tended to play things out in my mind about how things will wind up (always with a happy ending) only to be let down when the real-life events unfolding are nothing like the ones that I conjured up in my imagination.

Its like buying a lottery ticket, when the feeling that Lady Luck is going to shine on me, spending the fortune that isn’t mine (in my imagination), only to be let down when I find out that I don’t have the winning numbers.

I guess that’s life.

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About I'm Just A Dad

Stephen Gosewich is just a Dad (he is a former Enlightened Male but decided to change the name because when you search Enlightened Male, "other...wink, wink" are displayed. He spends his days during the week as a working stiff. At all other times, he just enjoys hanging out with his best friend and wife and their two very active and inspiring daughters.
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