I confess, when I got married I was excited about the “for better” part of marriage, and I was totally oblivious to even the possibility of the “for worse.” Same goes for parenting. When I held my first baby, I envisioned the wonderful experiences I would share with her. And though there have been many of those with all of my children, there have also been trials and rocks in the relationship road.
So I’ve learned along the way that to truly find joy in parenting, I’ve had to adjust my expectations, which led to a sharpening of my overall parenting skills. Here’s what’s worked for me to make that happen…
1. Be flexible.
Don’t create a concrete picture of who your child will become or what your relationship with them will look like. If you do, you could set yourself up for disappointment. Yes, my relationship with my children may be different from what I imagined, but in many ways, it’s better than what I imagined. I try not to waste time mourning what isn’t, and accept and embrace what is.
2. Trust the plan.
The process of your child’s development might go up and down, but you have to remember to just trust God’s plan. For me, joy comes when I expect, and accept, that God’s plan for my children may not perfectly align with my plan for them. God knows my children better than I do. He is the ultimate potter of the clay, and his vision for how he will shape my children may be different from what I would’ve created.
3. Accept their vision.
Expect your vision for your child and your child’s vision for himself not to align. If it winds up aligning–great! If it doesn’t, love and encourage your child anyway. That way, he’ll feel comfortable coming to you if his vision doesn’t work out as he hoped. If he knows you didn’t believe in him, he might avoid you out of fear of hearing an “I told you so.”
4. Expect regret.
At the end of the day, you will feel like you didn’t do everything you could’ve done for your children. I remember buying a Memory Journal when my kids were small. I had all of these great visions of the traditions I’d create and the memories we’d share. Well, fast forward and that Memory Journal is pretty empty. I had all of these great visions and I didn’t even come close!
I’ve had to let go of those feelings of regret. It’s fine to hope for certain things in our parenting life, but expectations can prevent you from enjoying your child and your life as it is right now. Unmet expectations can lead to bitterness. If we hold too tightly to a dream, we set ourselves up for disappointment and despair. I’ve tried, and am still trying. to replace expectations with acceptance. What are your tips to help me? I’d love to hear!
If we hold too tightly to a dream, we set ourselves up for disappointment and despair.
Tell us! When it comes to being a mom, what brings you the most joy?