Thursday, June 27, 2019

Expectations Revealed.

Image result for expectations cartoonMost parents experience a mild to severe psychological break when it comes to watching their children navigate the pitfalls and opportunities of life.  Some parents are more adept, and some are taken completely by surprise, plunging their tenuous expectations into a free fall of disappointment. 

These events are almost always expected as the children learn to spread their wings, experiment with what they have been told, what they have learned and what they think they desire, that is life and for 1000 generations those changes to the parental expectation has very seldom transitioned without the rifts and challenges that inevitably change both the children and the parents.

The problems occur in part based on the differing perception of duty and love.  From a parent’s view almost (if you are at least a marginal parent) everything they do is for the good of the family.  Mothers and fathers work, they sacrifice their time and dreams in order to sustain the family.  Mothers and fathers try to justify their actions and, in many cases, their essential duty to provide for the basic needs of the family take precedent over the children’s desire for improved or continued relationships, often times with the harsh unspoken or even conscious reality within the parents minds that what good is a relationship if we have no food or a place to live…But this is not a black and white, an either or scenario.  It is also no a given.  Parents and children vacillate, equivocate but in my opinion most parents perform their parental duties with the underlying goal to help their children, whatever the word help might mean.

This is not an economic situation but one of perceived expediency.  A parent’s perception of having to work or sacrifice is just as powerful as the child’s perceived need of increased relationships.  There is often a schism in understanding between the children and the adults. The adults fail to  understand the child’s need, and the children fail to understand the motivation of the parents and their duty to provide for the family.
Further complicating the issue is the problem with understanding those essential issues and how to balance what is not known or understood.  Children only know what they presently feel and want.  As they get older those basic emotions morph into a more cognitive level of reason, but the feelings and emotions felt during the times of development are often very difficult to dissuade or change staying with the child even into adulthood. 

Even with adults who have had years to compartmentalize, rationalize and overcome their childhood expectations, they are often plagued with the memories that are based on those expectations, at the time they were children, creating a lifelong and irrational pattern of memory.

Bridging this gap is the essential issue.  Most children cannot understand the concepts of sacrifice as it is demonstrated through the choices that the parents need to make to provide food, shelter and even the conceptual things that they (the parents) may not have had as children and therefore want to provide to their children.  Also, they may not have an understanding that their children mat not be able to conceptualize the differences forced upon their parents and the choices that are made as a direct result of supporting the family and doing what is “best” at the time.

The adult psyche can remember how it was as a child but for many and for a variety of reasons including abuse, neglect, poverty etc…the need to recall is overshadowed by the realities of life, the struggles, the disappointments and the pressures to live up to what they believe is their role as a parent or even more basic the need to survive.
The paradigm of perfection in relation to parent, child relationships are as wide as the universe.  There are thoughts and promises, guarantees and warnings but to date the decisions to stay connected generally require both parents and children to agree on how they want to be connected. Very seldom is this task verbally presented or agreed too.

For most, the decisions we make as adults are connected to our experiences as children.  If we had a “good” childhood, meaning our perception of our childhood was good as we expected it to be than our relationship with our parents is more likely to be positive.  However, if the perception of our childhood is less then good then our attitude toward our parents can be strained and difficult, regardless of the well meaning motivations of the parents.

Unfortunately, we are back to perception and in most cases our perception of what we expected is influenced more about how we feel now than with the actual memories of what happened in the past or in other words, how do we want to feel about our parents?  They can do nothing to alter the way we feel, that is entirely up to us. 
Since we live our lives based on the unwritten or even unspoken expectations of behavior then it seems to me that these secret wishes be verbalized and even recorded to some extent in order to more efficiently move toward uniformity. 

If your expectations were spoken and were then known to another, then the chances of those expectations being realized would be greater.  The problem with this scenario is in the verbalizing, the speaking out loud of those inner thoughts that are our expectations. 

"If I have to explain it too you then just forget about it" says the wife to the confused husband.  

How often do we think we are acting in accordance with what another wants only to be condemned for not knowing what was expected of us.

The mediation of balancing our expectations and the willingness of behavior from another is what follows.  There will always be some compromise in what you want and in what is provided. 

There are numerous areas of discord in any relationship with most the result of minimized communication of our expectations and the subsequent discussion of mediation until both parties agree and can be happy with the outcome. We must be happy with the agreement or there is no chance of truthful gain.

This process is very difficult to do with children but as they get older the parents and their children should sit down and be open about their expectations and plan together to provide solutions on both sides to ensure a more tranquil and positive relationship.

I know, easier said than done, but it’s never too late.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

D Day Dreams

“D” day is quickly becoming a forgotten event.  If you ask anyone under 30 you will be hard pressed to get a clear understanding of the sacrifices that were endured by our fathers and grandfathers during this day June the 6rth 1944. 

Thousands died trying to establish a beachhead that would be the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany and their goal of world domination.  It took 350,000 troops landing on 5 beaches to establish the foundation in which the allied nations could forge an attack against the Germans.

The men who died all had dreams and lives that they gave up in order to fight for a greater cause.  For their lives lost I am grateful and will ever be grateful for their sacrifice.  There dreams were cut short because of what they chose to do, our dreams are often cut short for other reasons.

 I think it is understood that most of our expectations never see the level of clarity that initiated the dream.  Children and our youth have unfettered dreams that guide their paths toward adulthood.  Young adults may have started to see the stark reality that life very rarely follows our dreams or plans and as a we age; we are confident that whatever we thought we wanted will never take place.

The differences in perception vs reality may be part of the problem but when we delve into the randomness of life, we notice that those random acts may not be so random….

When we look at the word expectation, we learn that it is an “if” word.  If something happens than we can be happy.  But what if “if” never happens?  Are we then subject to the universal law of “never going to happen”?

I believe we all understand, to some degree that our lives are variable and changeable and when something doesn’t happen, we have options, other choices that can keep us going toward that often-elusive goal of happiness.

Perhaps we are thinking about our expectations all wrong.  An expectation is a final outcome and I think we have already established, or at least agreed to the premise that most of our expectations fall short of our dreams, meaning that either our dreams are wrong, or our process of perception is incorrect.  

What we need, from my perspective, is the realization that there is an approximation of expectation rather than the unbending dream that when left unfinished crushes our lives and future dreams.  This approximation allows the mind to continue forward without the devastation of the loss of a dream not fulfilled.

Let’s use marriage as an example:  When a young couple gets married, or whatever you want to call it, their dreams are both very different but were alike enough to bring them together.  Problems arise, like they always do that start to shed light on the darkness of exacting dreams without compromise, or approximation.  There is no perfect relationship.  The older you get the more important that concept becomes. 

A successful marriage is defined, by me, as one that can weather the loss of certain aspect of their personal dreams and continue to move forward because there are more important shared dreams between them. 

Marriages that falter are those that fail to understand that in the approximation principle, which is:  Never loose sight of the ultimate goals of life and never forget to put aside aspects of your life as needed to obtain those most important goals.

This is not a compromise; this is not giving up or laying down.  This is the process of staying true to what is right in front of us and realizing that what is most important is what should be pursued.  But that is also the biggest problem.  What is it that is most important?

That my friends is the 100,000-dollar question.  It is supposed to say 64,000 but with inflation and the value of the dollar …OK, I know, side tracked, I don’t really know what is most important, I mean I have my beliefs and my answers for me but you have to answer that question for yourself. 

Let’s put it this way, if you wanted a healthy and fulfilling marriage, then, what are you doing to make it that way?  What sacrifices are you willing to endure in order to get what you really want?

My only advice is that we start to modify the way we dream.  We develop the ability to be grateful for partial successes toward our dreams and learn to reshape our dreams and goals to fit our reality. We need to understand that when we have a focus outside of ourselves then and only then can our dreams be fulfilled.  Then we will have chosen our Normandy landing and we can be numbered with those that we call the Greatest Generation.

At least that’s what I think…