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I received a lot of requests on this topic from a lot of my clients and my followers. It is a topic that I am very familiar with and have experienced first hand. The topic is about family expectations., what it is and how to deal with it. This is something that I have experienced first hand. Growing up in Afghanistan, I didn’t have a voice of my own. Most of my decisions were mad for me through the lenses of my parents. They always told me what to do and I did exactly that.
So what are family expectations? How can you deal with them? What are the benefits of living free from them? Family expectations are our set of values and rules that we learn from our parents.
I myself am a mother of two. When my daughters were young, I had certain rules and regulations that they had to follow growing up. From these rules, I wanted to simultaneously discipline them and make sure they learned certain things about life, up until they were 18 years old. For example, they had to come greet all guests that came to the house, they couldn’t just sit up in their room on their phone or watch tv. When they had friends over, they had to be mindful of how loud they were being. Most families have a certain set of rules and guidelines which is perfectly fine, in fact, families should have those for their children because at a young age, they don’t know and need to be taught how to make good choices while having family as safety nets to catch them.
Structures and rules are one thing, but forcing you’re children to follow certain traditions and wishes that they might not entirely agree with is not always the right thing. For example, in my family, getting divorced was unorthodox and completely out of the question. In my twenties, I was married and living with a man that was physically and emotionally abusive. But because my family had such a strong prejudice about divorce, it wasn’t even a thought in my mind. I didn’t want to disappoint my family and be the first to get divorced, regardless of how bad the circumstances were. All of my siblings were married, not happily married, but married. I ended up being the first in my family to get divorced. This was a unpopular decision but it was something I had to do for the safety of myself and my children.
Another example is the expectations of wanting grandchildren. There may be things you would like to experience before having children; things that you wont have time to do once you do have children such as traveling with your partner or enjoying your own freedom. You may not even want to have kids at all, but you’re family may create a “deadline” for you.
We have to be able to differentiate between guidelines and forced expectations. Also, when to stop, take a step back and let kids grow and trust them to make the right decisions. Once I became a mother, I promised myself that I would never pressure my kids to do anything or expect them to do anything that they don’t want to do or will make them unhappy. Even though I was raised the opposite way, I started a new parenting style with my kids. By giving them my thoughts and opinions on something, and leaving it up to them to make the best choice and let them live with the consequences.
So, what can we do to deal with family expectations? One of the things I always tell people is to stop feeling guilt about not pleasing your parents. Growing up, we were always taught to respect adults and elders. They may view going against their beliefs as disrespect, but this is far from the case. If there is something your parents expect you to do, sit down and analyze it for yourself. Ask yourself. Is this for my benefit? Does this make my future better? Is it something that I am capable of doing? If not, don’t do it and certainly don’t feel guilty about not fulfilling their desires. Trust yourself and your judgment. Even if you do make a mistake and fail, its your failure and you will live with the consequences.
Creating boundaries is an important aspect of dealing with unrealistic family expectations. In order to be able to create these boundaries, you have to know your true self. Without knowing exactly what it is that we want, don’t want, our own beliefs, we follow these expectations blindly. If you don’t know, that’s okay. Take some time to do some soul searching and learn about yourself, in every aspect of your life, Physically, financially, emotionally and spiritually.
Once you learn who you are, what you want and really are confident of your decisions, you are able to set boundaries. Whether its where you work, how much money you want to save, to travel, if you want to get married, have children. To do things you like to do. If you know exactly what you want to do, then you are able to clearly communicate that with your family. Then you can discuss this with them in a respectable manner, and if they don’t like it…then oh well.
So, what are the benefits in doing all of this and living free of these expectations? When you stop living for other people, and start to live for yourself, you become more independent. Life is all about taking in all experiences, learning and growing from them.
If I would have stayed with my ex husband who was abusive towards me, imagine what my kids lives would be like? They would grow in an environment where they would think that sort of abuse is allowed and can be tolerated. I didn’t care what my parents thought and I sure as hell didn’t feel guilty about my decision. I knew what I wanted to do, what was best for my family and I let go of any guilt after my decision. Don’t get me wrong, you will make mistakes, but life is about making mistakes and learning from them. Not waiting for mom and dad to give you advice, or for them to tell you what to they want you to do.
You’re life will instantly become stress free and no longer have feelings of stress anxiety and fear. Living with family expectations will cause anxiety, stress and fear.
To Sum Up:
- Know your identity. Be true to yourself. Be confident about your decision.
- Don’t feel guilty about disappointing your family. If something is right for you, go for it.
- Live a healthier, stress free life!
Tell me in the comments below: What is your takeaway from this episode and what would you do to start putting that takeaway into action?
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