January 22, 2018


Lately, I have been thinking about disappointment and how that plays out in life. I read a blog yesterday that described a moms experience in getting her child to wear a party dress to grandma’s party (sorry I looked for the blog this morning again, but can’t seem to find it!). Basically, the mom wanted her daughter to wear a pretty dress because she knew Grandma would be pleased. Daughter was a no-go on that idea. When the mom relented, the daughter exclaimed “sorry to make you sad Mommy”. Instant guilt and introspection ensued. She discovered she had made her expectations, her daughters. For me, I wavered here.

Are we not to have expectations for our kids? Is this not part of training them to go into the big, bad world? You are expected to dress a certain way for work, you expected to arrive there on time and work your shift, you’re expected to obey the law, you are expected to pay your bills. And disappointment in this arena looks a bit different than Grandma’s frown, right?

Plus, as I mull this over, what is wrong with showing Grandma love by making her party a bit more sparkly in a girly dress? Isn’t it good to appropriately put others before ourselves at times?

So I had a first-hand look at this today. My #4 is home sick for the 2nd day. And I had planned a dinner outing with him and #3 for tonight, when everyone else was out of town. After he expressed his desire to stay home, I told him of my plans. He hesitated and said ‘sorry mom’. Hmmm…guilt ensued and introspection. Expectations may have been many layers below (and not sure, but was curious how Mom’s conversation above actually transpired) but my motive? – to see if he was really sick enough to stay home or if the dinner carrot would motivate him to get out of bed and go to school. Hello guilt. The intent/expectation was good, the delivery was passive aggressive. We will save that nugget for another chat.

Meantime, “#4, can we talk?”

About the author: By

Julie is an awesome parent (along with her husband Matt) to five adopted kiddos and the owner of the Parenting Allies website.

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  1. Hi Julie, Not sure it was my Parent Alliance post you were referring to (http://bit.ly/IETkPi) but I wrote about a similar topic last fall. One of the important distinctions that I think we need to make as parents and as spouses –and that I tried to make in my post–is the degree to which we’re asking our kids (or husbands or wives) to do things because we believe it’s something important for them or important to us (and we’re pretending the focus is on them). In my case, I realized that I was intent on my daughter wearing a dress because I didn’t want to disappoint my own mother (and experience her shaming style in response to her disappointment, with which I’d grown up). In truth, it didn’t matter to me–and in this instance, I personally didn’t think it was an important lesson to teach in that moment–that she wear the dress. The bigger issue, for me at least, is trying to tease out our own desires from our children’s desires. Those things we want to teach our kids falls, I believe, somewhere between the two and, with those, we need to ask ourselves: What are the best ways to teach this lesson? What are the best occasions for that teaching? How do we want to show respect to our kids as they’re resisting lessons and stick to the lessons nonetheless? I’m sure there are more questions, but those are the ones that occur to me in the moment. Thanks for your post. Thanks, too, for honestly sharing about your experience with your son. Parenting is certainly a work-in-progress, isn’t it? 🙂

    • Rhona – I so agree! Isn’t hard to parent through baggage? Always have to be on our toes on “is this my issue or parenting time”. I like your questions – those are definitely ones that we can attempt to answer as the situations arise. And hope we can get it right the majority of the time and be able to apologize and regroup the rest! Thanks for visiting with me.

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