Expectations Are Killing Us From the Inside

lifestyle Nov 20, 2021
Expectations Are Killing Us From the Inside

Think back to the last time you got upset or frustrated.

Were you upset at yourself over something you did or failed to do? Were you frustrated at the behavior of your kids or wife?

If you recall being frustrated, helpless, or upset with any of the above-mentioned suggestions, we at Dad University have some news for you — whatever happened was not the cause of your stress and frustration.

What led to your emotions were your expectations.

Whether we like to admit it or not, expectations have a way of killing us from the inside, especially if things don’t go our way.

Below, we’ll explore the different types of expectations you need to be aware of and how you can best deal with them.

Expectations on How We Should Be as Fathers

One of the first expectations you need to be aware of is your “dad expectations.”

As a dad, you’ll carry expectations about how you ought to conduct yourself in your paternal role. Whether it’s about not crying in front of the wife or kids or getting things right all the time, your expectations come from your upbringing and your experiences with your own father.

Many of us dads lack instruction manuals for our new roles. For this reason, we defer to what we saw in our fathers when we were growing up. We then use what we remember about our dads and turn this into standards for how we should carry out our fatherhood duties.

While this isn’t always a bad thing, these standards can leave you with unrealistic expectations of how you should parent. As a result, you’ll experience feelings of inadequacy if you come shy of the mark.

Expectations About Our Partners

Besides your own parent expectations, you need to be mindful of the expectations you have about your partner.

Indeed, you and your wife are a team when it comes to raising kids. As you divide tasks and parts of your day based on your children’s needs, it’s normal for you to have some expectations. It’s also natural for you to have expectations about the non-parental aspects of your marriage, like housework and intimacy.

However, like some of the unrealistic expectations you have for yourself, having expectations about your partner can also backfire. These expectations will also be likely unmet if they’re not communicated or agreed upon, making your relationship more susceptible to strain and misunderstandings.

Expectations About Our Families and the People Around Us

Your expectations for your family and other people can take numerous forms. You may expect your child’s grandparents (your parents) to act a certain way around your child. There may also be expectations about how polite your in-laws should be when they come to your home.

You may have standards of behavior for neighbors, visitors, and other people in your community as well. Whatever these expectations are, they can escalate to becoming unrealistic ones and render you susceptible to disappointment and resentment when they’re not met.

Left unaddressed, these expectations you have for your family and other people can lead to disagreements, strained relationships, and even disrupted family dynamics.

Expectations of Our Children

As a dad, you’ll have numerous expectations concerning your kids, and this is normal. After all, you want them to grow up a certain way and live the best lives they can.

As a result of your expectations, you’re likely to zero in on everything, from developmental milestones to their performances in school and extracurricular activities.

Although many expectations you set for your children can be reasonable (like manners), some can be unrealistic. Standards can be particularly unrealistic if they exceed what your kids are capable of at their age.

For instance, you can’t expect a toddler to behave well in public 100% of the time, nor can you always expect your school-aged child to wash their hands without being told before they get to the dinner table.

Big or small, any unrealistic expectations can leave you feeling frustrated. Worse yet, they can also be detrimental to your child’s self-esteem.

How To Handle Expectations

Dealing with unmet expectations is all about balancing setting standards, ensuring most of them are met, and recognizing that not everyone will be on board. Juggling all these tasks isn’t a cakewalk, but we’ve got you covered.

Here are some of our tried and tested methods for handling husband and parent expectations.

Accept That It’s OK To Have Standards

Standards and aspirations are a natural part of life and being a husband and father. In fact, having them can serve as valuable guides for how you should conduct yourself as a father, partner, and member of your community.

Expectations only become harmful when they’re unrealistic and uncommunicated — and this brings us to the next tip.

Communicate Expectations

Whether it’s to your wife, in-laws, or your kids, you need to be clear about your standards. Think of it as giving others an instruction manual of how they should behave around you and your family.

This way, there will be no miscommunications or gray areas — just harmonious relationships with those around you!

The Lesser, the Better

The more expectations you have, the more of them will go unmet. Hence, when setting standards, make sure you’re not establishing too many. Having too many codes of conduct and rules is a surefire way to feel disappointment and frustration later on.

Have a Plan To Deal With Unmet Expectations

Not everyone is going to be on board with your expectations. For this reason, prepare for them to go unmet at some point.

When your standards go unmet, coping mechanisms should be your plan A. Some of the most helpful coping mechanisms for unmet expectations include empathy and finding a middle ground.

Find a Middle Ground

Different perspectives can lead to different expectations that may conflict with yours. To avoid unnecessary relationship strains, it’s best to compromise wherever possible.

When you compromise with your kids, wife, or other people, you’re taking proactive steps to ensure peaceful and productive relationships. Most importantly, you’ll likely have most of your expectations met since meeting them meets the expectations of other people.

Dad Expectations: High Hopes With Fewer “Nopes”

When it comes to getting your standards and needs met, it’s all about balance and healthy standards.

As long as you’re aware of your expectations and know how to deal with unmet ones, you’ll be on your way to less-strained, productive, and healthier relationships — with your family, wife, and kids.

Most importantly, you’ll feel more capable in your role as a dad.  

Watch the "Expectations Are Killing Us From the Inside" video here:

Enjoy this article?
Get unlimited access to Dad University

The #1 educational platform for dads. Join our growing community of fathers from around the world!

Become a Member