Parental Expectations On Reasonableness

Now I think Kylie and I have reasonable ideas about what we expect from our kids and them growing up. This morning I read an article online and there was a throw away line in it that had me thinking about what was reasonable expectations for children and mine. To paraphrase the author said “being lesbian I expect both my daughters will probably grow up lesbian but if they are heterosexual then I will still accept them and love them.”

There is a bit to unpack from that but what I wanted to talk about was around being a parent and what is a reasonable expectation.

For me I have a few expectations for the kids.

At a high level they are; grow up to be happy, thoughtful, adults who are good and kind and treat people right. Beyond that I don’t know if parents should have expectations. I especially don’t think it is healthy for either parent or child, for the parent to have expectations about who they will love, how they will express themselves or what they will do as an adult.

When the children leave home we have a hope they will go on to do study or training of some sort (you want your children to be successful right) but it doesn’t really matter what. If they don’t then that is ok. I think I have one expectation for when they leave home and that is for them to have a plan. It doesn’t matter if it is only a short term plan, but I want them to at least say “for the next while I want to try this”.

In terms of relationships I really don’t think parents should have expectations beyond hoping that their children have good positive ones where their friends and partners (if they have them) treat them right.

I think you can tell how your kids will grow up and where they will head relationship-wise if you listen to them. It’s very important to let them tell you and not try to lead them.

For in the end don’t we want to raise happy confident adults who will explore their world in their own way?



  1. Great points. I struggle with this. On the one hand I don’t want to impose expectations on my kids (and certainly not in regards to their sexuality..despite my own heteronormativity..height of arrogance). On the other hand if I don’t expect certain things to happen, maybe they won’t. Like music. I know expect my kids to practice and do well at music. If I don’t hold that expectation why do I bother making them go to lessons, and why should I tell them to practice? I don’t have job expectations, but I have expectations that kids will do more than NCEA, be that by way of trade training or uni etc. I expect them to be good at what they do. if I don’t, I worry they won’t. Māori kids, as we know from the research relied on by Treasury last week, suffer at least partly as a result of low expectations. Parents are not teachers, but there must be some kind of correlation. Ooh, will have to think about this more, and might do my own blogpost n this..thanks!!

    • O yes I do struggle too. I started with expectations of university with the kids but as we have all grown realized at points that my expectations at birth don’t reflect the reality of the child growing. 🙂

      I have started to think about differentiating between long term life expectations and short term growing expectations. Like expectations of working hard at what they chooce to work on.

      I’ll make sure I watch your blog post to see what you say. 🙂

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