Most 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.