Monday, September 16, 2013

My Sunday of Unrealistic Expectations

In the spirit of family bonding and practicing what I preach, I convinced my husband to shelf his after church plans and take myself and our daughter to swim. 

I had it all planned out, swimming costume, floater etc. Daddy on standby to take several shots of the future swimming champion (footage for her future biography, of course). It was to be one of those mini dream come true moments. Our 1 year, 10 month-old daughter, in the pool for the first time.

But then something was terribly wrong; she didn't want to get into the pool. We begged, cajoled, almost forced her but baby Jada wouldn't get in. Then the shocking part was that when I started swimming and making a show of having a nice time, she trembled in Daddy's arms and kept urging me to get out “Mammy! Mummy!”. She was positively anxious for my safety also. And there I was totally deflated with another parenting lesson learnt - Jada is much more comfortable on dry land. 

Don't have unrealistic expectations. 

Just because I was a swimmer by the age of six, and nick-named my husband, Swimmy (short for SwimSumtime, long story there) does not mean that my child will or should follow suit.

Every parent wishes to act in the best possible way when dealing with children. But many of them end up in mistakes which spoil the essence of parenting. Parenting is a self learned art, thus mistakes are common. Most important is to realize this to avoid mistakes and turn away from them.

Parents who make unrealistic demands and/or have unrealistic expectations of their kids academically, or in any other sphere of their lives, risk seeing their kids' mental, emotional and physical well being severely compromised. Children, under this kind of pressure, often begin to refuse to attempt anything unless they are convinced that they will be the best at it. They fear being perceived by their parents as imperfect.

It is quite natural that we wish our children to be the best among the rest. We want our kids well behaved, mature, intelligent and skilled. A good number of parents force children to excel in all the activities and overtake same aged kids in smartness and intelligence. When the children do not meet up with the expectations of parents, they become quite disappointed.

Understanding the child is essential to help him/her develop the skill sets. Know the talents and weaknesses of your child and provide training to excel in skills and overcome weaknesses, instead of harbouring unrealistic expectations and impossible ambitions about children.

By Ijeoma Olujekun

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