You know those irritating things you do, yeah, like being a perfectionist? Well, it could come from unrealistic expectations from childhood.

I wanted to write and paint during most of my childhood. I liked to play outside a lot too. There were many things I truly enjoyed, but things were instilled within me from my parents and other family members. I see them now as unrealistic expectations. To be honest, I come up with a few on my own as well.

Misconceptions from our childhood

Okay, here’s the thing, if you’re not careful, you can carry unrealistic expectations throughout your entire lifetime. You’re going to need quite a bit of education, and sometimes a good friend to give you tough love.

Here are a few more unrealistic expectations we may have learned in childhood that we probably should unlearn as soon as possible.

1. The knight in shining armor lies

From a really young age, many children read stories of knights riding on horses to sweep them up and carry them to a happy ever after in life.

It was the story of true love, the great soul mate, and life that vanquished all loneliness. This lie contradicted itself as children watched the realistic relationship between their parents, who sometimes fought or divorced.

Somehow it stayed with so many of us anyway. We believed that we wouldn’t fight like our parents, and we wouldn’t get a divorce.

I believe this is one of the cruelest unrealistic expectations that a child carries into adulthood. But the truth is, there are still adults my age that believe this, even those who’ve been married at least twice. The truth is, no one is perfect, and they never will be. Searching for a knight in shining armor may lead you nowhere.

2. Knowing your exact career

As children, we see adults with careers that make them seem like superheroes. So, we emulate them, and we plan our futures, sometimes, based on parental pressure.

Parents expect their children to be doctors, lawyers, and scientists, to name a few professions. They even push us toward those areas in subtle ways. My father made me play basketball because I was tall. He also made me take piano lessons just because I liked to band on the piano keys.

I’m not saying you cannot be any of the things your parents suggested. What I’m saying is that we often live off these dreams for a long time, but we never do anything about them, or we secretly hate them.

Our unrealistic expectations that having certain career choices is easy and dropped right into our laps is making our adult life harder too. You cannot know your exact career path as a child, it’s an unrealistic expectation. Why? Because of two little things called to change and choice.

3. Turning 18/ getting away from those awful parents

I remember thinking this all the time, fueled by my mother’s story of escaping from home and moving out on her own. And the funny thing is, I turned 18, and I did get away from my parents too.

So, why is this an unrealistic expectation of the future? Well, after I got away from my parents, life became a nightmare. I wasn’t prepared to escape my childhood home, and this led to dropping out of college several times and hurting others.

There came a time in my adult life, after both my parents were gone, that I wanted to go back home. But that was impossible. My childhood unrealistic expectations of escape followed me throughout life. Of course, I’ve made peace with that. So, think twice. Are you ready to leave home?

4. Living forever

Some children have the strangest expectation that they’ll live forever. They watch others die around them at times, but they cannot absorb the fact that they will die too, eventually.

Although this is a morbid topic, it is an actual unrealistic view that many children have, and many parents never talk to their children about death. Yes, it takes a while for a child to even notice death, but when they do, they deny it for themselves because they don’t understand.

On into adulthood, there are still so many of us who will not and cannot have a death conversation, much less talk to our children about this. Just like when they were younger, they deny the fact that they’re very much mortal.

Some people get upset if you bring up the topic of death preparations or life insurance. It’s just something they’ve never reconciled for themselves.

5. Everyone will like me

I hesitate to say this, but thinking that everyone will like you can be damaging later in life. In fact, it can slap you in the face during childhood as well.

If you think everyone is going to see you are a good-hearted and kind person, then you’re wrong. So many people will pass judgments, and they start from grade school. But you see, children are resilient, and they push against judgment and rejection, sometimes on into adulthood.

The unhealthy part of this is that they develop low self-esteem and manifest manipulative behavior. Like adults, children that had unrealistic expectations that they would be loved by everyone, generally do whatever it takes to make people like them.

This means being fake, disregarding their own self-worth, and many other unhealthy habits. I’m sorry, but there will always be someone somewhere that doesn’t like you, and you should be okay with that. Always be true to yourself.

6. There’s a set structure in life

So many of us are told by our parents, especially girls, that we should be married by a certain age, buy a home and car within another time frame, and then children – yes, we must have children.

This unrealistic expectation drilled into our heads is so toxic. It follows us throughout life making us pick the wrong partners, buying terrible homes, and having children when we may not even want children.

And I will say this. We are no incomplete without children. The reason why these expectations of life structure are so bad is that they take the place of our true dreams and goals.

Maybe we do want these things, maybe we want some of them, and then again, maybe we’d rather live alone on an island in a tiny home raising cats. There is no set structure to life; that’s a lie too.

Realistic expectations grow healthy adults

You see, facing the realism of life makes us better people, and if we choose to have children, it makes us better for them as well. Learning how to grow and enjoy childhood without the expectations of others and without living off the things we see in others is the best way to become healthy adults.

So, if you’re a parent, let your child be a child. Answer questions, guide them, but please, don’t set your expectations on their lives. You’ll see that it’s better that way.


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the power of misfits

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. gaay

    Thank you Sherrie for this post, it was reassuring and came at the right time for me. Thank you!

  2. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

    There are so many expectations placed upon us as human beings, even into adulthood and then on. I wish that children didn’t have so many strange expectations put upon them, but it happens to all of us at some point. Thank you for reading, and remember, shedding those expectations is the best thing you can do going forward. Creating your own goals and expectations for yourself and striving toward those is the thing to do.

    Be blessed

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