Well-Balanced Dad Diet: Realistic Expectations
First, let me ask: where does your self-perception lay? Where are your expectations of your kids, where are your partner's expectations, where is your job's expectation, and where are your hobbies/interests? Where are the expectations of all other things you attach an expectation to? Are they too high, too low, or right where they need to be, or do they not need to be there?
If you haven't read the book, I recommend The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**K by Mark Manson. I recommend it for a couple of reasons; it helps you evaluate where you have your f**k's; for me, that also meant seeing where I cared about specific items, people, and expectations and if the energy I am putting into them genuinely is what it deserves for what I am getting out of it. This brings me to the point, is the level of the expectations you have for your job, self, partner, and kids aren't being met, is it truly because of that other thing, or are you putting higher than necessary expectations on it? Answer: your expectations are likely high, and you have too much of the wrong kind of negative energy invested. It's time we lower the expectations, remove the pressure, and reinvest the energy into the realistic expectations that genuinely serve you where you are today.
Challenge One, we are starting earlier and earlier with these challenges. Stay calm if your expectations and where you are right now aren't where you want to be. Your challenge is to meet you where you are now. You don't get upset that your expectations may be skewed or your energy is in the wrong places. That is okay; meet you where you are. Do that simple reevaluation, and be honest with yourself. That is okay if your expectations are too high in one area vs. another. There is nothing wrong with that; now, we accept what we are, who we are, and where the expectations lay and take a stand.
But how do I do that? It sounds great in theory, but where do I start? Well, this is where with your expectations, let's say, of your partner/significant other, do they know what you expect from them daily in terms of loving you, showing you love and affection when it comes to household responsibility, and all the things that go on within the home. Do they know your expectations that you might feel they aren't meeting? You must have excellent communication skills, and yall have a seamless relationship if you're here; you're likely searching for ways to get there. If you feel like you expect your partner, you aren't being satisfied by them in whatever way. Do they know what you need or what you want? If you answered no, you should drop these expectations down or tell them what you need from there. Be realistic about where things are now, and lower the expectation so that you can build everything back to more assertive and reach levels beyond your current expectations.
Remember, you cannot control your partner. It would be best to avoid controlling your partner and everything they do. You should, however, always be loving, kind, and accepting of where they are and when they fail you, themselves, the kids, the home, or their job, and be supportive in all those moments because, like you and I, they are human. You married or committed to an imperfect person, with traumas and things they have overcome and are still working through. You chose them; they chose you the same. They will fail, fall short of expectations, and you should never beat them down (figuratively) for doing so; you should pick them up, dust them off, communicate about why things happened, and have an honest, loving, accepting, and forgiving conversation.
How about with my kids, man? What about these dang kids? I have to teach these kids to be wise, do good in school, be athletes, and be the best kids out there with everything they do. No, you don't. Seriously, no, you don't. Drop the expectations in school for them to be the perfect student, drop the expectations for them to be the star athlete, to be the star of whatever extracurricular they are doing. The only thing they should get out of these is mental, physical, and mental development and getting the most out of it. They should be having fun, being a kid, and enjoying life. There will be enough expectations on them socially, mentally, emotionally, physically, in school, in sports, and throughout their lives. The last thing they need is more pressure to perform from their parents, to go to higher levels to make them happy or proud. We should be proud of them for doing it and working hard to be there. We should be supportive, loving, and kind when they ask for additional help to get to those levels on their own accord; then, we do so with love, kindness, and support. Our kids should be happy and proud of themselves for their performances, roles, and what they are doing, and they should know that we will show up, support them and be there for them to progress.
It's essential also to mention that our kids will fail, they will not meet their expectations, and they might not meet the status quo they have set for themselves that we have learned to know from them. What do you do? You love them the same, you won't be disappointed in them, you meet them where they are, you talk to them about how they feel without judgment, you care, and you build them back up. You support them in their failures, wins, and everything they do. It would help if you were their biggest fans and cheered them every step of the way. Never should you share that disappointment with them; however, you must validate it, talk about it with them, and help overcome those moments.
Okay, man, you talked about my partner, my kids, and the expectations I may have attached to them. But what about me? What about these expectations for myself where I am falling short, not meeting, and feeling like a failure? One of the most beautiful things about being a dad, a man, a parent, or a human, is that you feel this way. Attached and beyond that initial failure is why you feel you failed and someone or something you care about. That in itself is beautiful; it's meaningful, and it means your heart, soul, people, and things that truly matter and bring you value. Conversely, you could feel you failed because someone or something told you that you failed, yet it doesn't feel as bad, likely, because that thing or person doesn't carry the value that the other things do. Let it go; pay it no mind; it doesn't deserve that energy.
Challenge Two, you need to stay patient with yourself and others and, like I said, with yourself. Have some grace with yourself, forgive yourself, and be kind to yourself. That's all; that's the challenge as we reflect on self and self-assessment. We remain kind, loving, and forgiving as we evaluate our expectations of ourselves and others close to us. If we don't meet the new expectation, we don't beat ourselves up, dwell on it, forgive ourselves, and move and be better. It will take consistently showing up for ourselves; by doing it for us, we do it for others.
The absolute last part I want to touch on is controls. Control is robust; as humans, we crave control. If you have ever heard the serenity prayer and the phrase from AA, control what you can control. You can control yourself and your feelings, thoughts, expectations, and how you react to those around you. You make those conscious choices, and you control all those things about yourself. You can also control what and who is in your circle of interactions; you can add value and remove things that aren't adding value. You can control where you put your f**ks, your energy, and where you let your expectations be. You can't control your partner, your kids to an extent, and those you interact with. All you can do is be kind, loving, supportive, forgiving, and open to them and meet them where they are.
To wrap this up, I have two challenges that I know you can complete. We discussed where your expectations lay with your partner and how you can reevaluate them. We did the same when it came to our kids and when it came to ourselves. It all boils down to simple love, kindness, understanding, and forgiveness. Show love to others and yourself without expectations. Be kind to those around you that you love and care about and those you interact with cause it's free. Be understanding to everyone, don't judge, and be willing to meet someone where they are at and have some empathy. Lastly, forgive yourself, your partner, your kids, your peers, your friends, and your family because we are ALL human; we all fail, make mistakes, learn, and grow. It truly is that simple.
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