The dictionary meaning of expectations is, “a belief that someone will or should achieve something.” It is an incredibly positive trait of a human being but, yes it has a but in it. How far should someone go with his or her expectation? “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” Do we follow this, no not at all? “If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed.” Again, is this followed? never!
Lately, I have been studying some people’s expectations. Maybe with my age, I have grown this habit of scrutinizing people!! I just observe and draw conclusions! So far, I have not gone to anyone and commented on their attitude, but I really wish I could have the courage! Especially when I see parents are ‘slaughtering’ their children (of course not physically but mentally) with their Sky-High expectations, I really want to speak up! Let me grow a little bit older, maybe in my 60s! I will be bolder then!!
Case study 1: Jake (fictional name) is a fairly intelligent kid. Till middle school he was doing fine, getting A’s and B’s. His parents were constantly helping him with his assignments, and he had tutors. Mom and dad constantly tried to instill in little Jake’s mind that he “has to be” a doctor when he grows up, for that he must take up biological science in university. But Jake has a creative mind, he loves music, he loves to write, he adores drama and art. Deep inside he cherishes the wish to be in liberal arts, to be an artist! Once he goes to Highschool, his aspiration became higher because he had an exceptionally good art and drama teacher. He was doing both.
trying to please his parents and enjoying the art and drama projects. The disaster began when he started applying for university, he had no choice but to go to Carlton University for biological science. His parents were dreaming that their son will be a doctor one day. Each day in the university was torture for Jake because he did not like the subject or the program. He started sinking within his inner self which pulled him deep down into the painful world of depression. Even then he managed to pass the courses till the 3rd year but once that was done, he could not take it anymore, he dropped out of university, came back home a different person, totally broken down. He was actually in the hospital as he almost died of an overdose of sleep medicine!!! All this time his parents were in the dark of the situation, they never listened to Jake even when he tried to make a point. “You have to be a doctor”, that was the last conversation he had with his parents. And nowJake doesn’t talk anymore!
Case study 2: This is a bit of a different scenario. Mandy (fictional name) is a mediocre student, and she has been a bit demotivated from her childhood, the reason being the negligence of her parents. They were very busy with their careers. They had no time for her. They never looked at her homework or anything related to her education. As a result, she became reluctant as well as her basic language and math skills could not grow strong. The basic deficiency remains. Once she started middle school and her parents were also a bit settled, they started looking at her report cards and they were not happy. Now begins the blame game! They blamed Mandy for not being attentive, they blamed the schoolteacher for not teaching properly, they blamed the tutors for not helping adequately! They started being very critical of everyone which slowly turned Mandy into a liar. She also started complaining against teachers, tutors, and friends. She also started hiding her work from her parents. This story is continuing now. I will not be surprised if Mandy turns into a sociopath!
Both these kids are real people with regular lives except both of them are overburdened with the stress of high expectations. During my 28years of a teaching career, I have come across hundreds more of these similar cases. I saw their suffering, for some, I could make a change but for the most, I was undone. Most of them are lost in darkness. This experience helped me to conclude that all students should enjoy learning and do it at their own pace, not because someone said they have to hit an impossibly high grade. Seeing an otherwise talented student detach from the learning experience due to impossible expectations is not only disheartening but also discouraging. It is my utmost request to parents, “Please, your children are human beings with individual ideas and talents, don’t take them as your puppets. Give them space to grow. Guide them, give them choices. You will see, they will emerge as excellent accomplished members of the community. Be patient! Maybe they will not grow up to be a typical professional like a doctor or engineer or any other, so what? They will be artists or musicians or writers or contractors or even a handyman. Just be in the support system, teach them morality and compassion and the rest will be up to them. I promise there won’t be any misfire!”