How do kids develop expectations of their parents? We come into this world not knowing anything, yet along the line somewhere we develop these expectations. And when parents fall short of these so called expectations then the children grow up and have ‘issues’ as a result of their childhood?
Okay I get it, there are some parents that do get it very wrong, and fail their kids. The problem is though parenting doesn’t come with any guidelines or a ‘how to’ document and if it did there would be so many variations to it.
When you become a parent for the first time, when they place that little human into your arms it’s almost like you have this weight of the world placed on your shoulders. You are responsible for this little person from this moment forward. And we will be judged not only by our children but also by others and society (for those that wish to care about that). Honestly I don’t care what people think about how I raise my kids. It’s my job not theirs.
We will be judged on if we breastfeed, if we bottle feed, what age our kids walk, when the first crawl, when they are toilet trained, when they say their first word, whether they go to private or public school, what grades they get and the list goes on…… How much of this really matters?
So how do kids create these expectations of their parents? Is it when they start schooling and they are educated? Is it social media? Is it from what they learn off other families? Or is it from what we as parents do or don’t do?
As a parent I have discovered over time that often my kids see me solely as a parent. They see me as ‘Mum’ and that is it! They don’t see me in my role at work. They don’t see me with my friends out having fun, because apparently parents don’t do that. That don’t see me sometimes as a human that has emotions. Because Mums and Dads don’t cry.
I remember as a child feeling exactly the same way towards my parents and judging them really quite harshly at times on the choices that they had made and who they were as people. More so my Dad.
When I was younger my Dad was a hard man and he pushed me very hard to excel at sport. There were no excuses. There were no easy pep talks. It’s was the hard realities of how good or bad (mainly bad) I was doing, because I could have always done better. Sport was definitely my thing as I excelled in most sports, however my greatest passion was softball. With my Dad as my coach I went on to represent Qld & Australia and he continued to coach me throughout my junior years.
There came a point in time in my life where I didn’t want him around me anymore. I didn’t want him at my games, scrutinising me and humiliating me in front of my team mates and my friends. I didn’t want him telling me what to do anymore. I left home as soon as I could when I finished high school and got a job. I wanted my independence and I wanted to make my own choices in life. Good or bad.
When I was 18 I decided I felt like my coaching days with my Dad were exhausted and I flew the coop. I traveled to Sydney to work under a specialist coach as well as spending a season in New Zealand, and then joining the Rebels Club in Brisbane.
I wasn’t upset when my Dad decided not to travel to the USA to watch me at the 1996 Olympics. He never traveled well and I knew that with him being there it would cause myself great emotional turmoil as it would’ve been hard for him to refrain from ‘coaching’ me.
I only saw my Dad in one light. I judged him. And at times I really didn’t like him.
It wasn’t until I became a parent for myself that my thoughts and opinions changed. It’s almost like I was transformed to the ‘other side’. LOL. So what happened over time was I began a journey of acceptance. I realised that before he was a parent he was someone else as well. He was someone’s son. He was someone’s friend. He was an employee and a boss. And actually he was many more things as well.
And of all those identities had contributed to who he had become when I came into the world as his daughter. He was exposed to very little ‘parent modelling’. He was looked after and bought up by his Grandmother and he lived in a very dysfunctional family.
The 1996 Atlanta Olympics marked a momentous occasion in Australian Softball history, when we beat the USA and secured a spot in the medal round. Still to this day it is one of my greatest moments of my career. Australia had not beaten the USA in over 20yrs. When I had the opportunity, I called my Dad. He had been up all night waiting for the game to be televised. There had been numerous delays due to weather and it was very early hours Brisbane. I had never heard my Dad cry. Until that day.
I think that my Dad always thought that he had to be a certain kind of DAD! He couldn’t be vulnerable. He couldn’t show his weaknesses. So he hid behind a dark wall. He wasn’t open and transparent and nor did he show much emotion. I lived in fear of doing the wrong thing. I don’t remember ever feeling like my Dad was approachable and I could talk to him about anything. I never felt like any performance was ever good enough.
So when I became a parent, and I could see without a filter I began a path of forgiveness. Many people see forgiveness as ‘letting someone off the hook’ and we have this mentality of ‘I’ll make them pay’. A revenge mentality. The only person affected by that is YOU. It’s not until you decide to forgive that you will ever allow yourself to move forward from something that holds you. It’s will empower you and bring you freedom from whatever binds you. It doesn’t ever excuse someone in their actions or wrong doings but it simply allows you to acknowledge it, and you are freeing yourself from whatever it is holding you back.
At times I know I exhibit poor parenting. Days when I am tired, run down, the kids are testing me, and I have to remind myself that I am only human. I do have emotions. I do get tired. I am not a super mum. And I do explain this to my kids. They have seen me cry. They have had to care for me when I’ve been sick. They have had to learn to be quiet some mornings when I’ve worked all night. They have to learn empathy, they have to learn compassion.
I think it is important as parents that our children see our vulnerabilities and they do know who we are as people. We don’t have to pretend to be these perfect people or perfect parents. No-one ever asked that of you. Being a good parent doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes. However you can be all the things you want to be for your kids;
Be what you want your child to be. They learn by example, they will model your behaviour.
what we say
that defines us
but what we do”
- Jane Austen
I wanted Renee to grow up knowing who I was. What I was passionate about and what I was good at. I wanted to inspire her to be anything she wanted and that you could do that and be a mum too.