Handling Our Expectations

Nothing causes a woman to need Jesus more than motherhood. Did I just hear an amen? No matter what stage we’re in as mothers, our children can disappoint us. I’ve heard so many mom stories over the years…and yes, children are the greatest blessing on this planet, but they can crush our hearts like none other.

But I’ve discovered that often the problem is not so much with THEM as it is with US. Perhaps we’ve not considered a very important component in handling relationships well with our older children: EXPECTATIONS. 

You know the expectations I’m talking about. You expected your teenager to tell the truth this time. You expected your college daughter to use better judgment. You expected your son to remember Mother’s Day. You expected, you expected, you expected. You had an inner belief or wish based on a personal need that something would happen and it didn’t. Now your unmet expectation is causing you anger, grief, sadness, or even bitterness. Why can’t they see the error of their ways? Why is it so hard for them to see how selfish (or stupid or insensitive) they’re acting?  These questions become ever so hurtful when we realize there isn’t much we can do to fix the problem, but there’s a lot we can do to make it worse. SO HELP! So what’s a mom to do?

All of Rich’s and my children are married now with their own families. I wish I could say it’s been smooth sailing all the way, but I can’t. I can say, however, that I’ve learned much about the value of keeping my expectations in check with God’s Word and reminding myself as to what I can and cannot expect.

Here are a few friendly “CANNOT” reminders written on the inner wall of my heart.

  • I cannot expect my kids to always make the choices I think they should. 
  • I cannot expect my kids to have the same relationship with me as they did when they were young. (Remember, when they marry, they leave and cleave.)
  • I cannot expect my kids to always want me around. (That’s hard for us mamas!) 
  • I cannot expect my kids to have the insight I do. (Yes, I’m A BIT older.)
  • I cannot expect my kids to always welcome my advice or even want it! (Ouch!)

But Praise God, here’s what I CAN expect.

  • I can expect God to give me wisdom in how to best relate to my children, pray for them, and love them unconditionally. (James 1:5-6)
  • I can expect God to fulfill His promises for my children’s well-being when I look to Him and trust Him above all else. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • I can expect God to do exactly what He says He will do. (2 Corinthians 1:20)
  • I can expect God to give me the strength to endure and always be there for them. (Philippians 4:13) 
  • I can expect God to fashion all the pieces together for good. (Romans 8:28)
  • I can expect God to continue to use me as an example in their lives. (1 Timothy 4:12)

So the question for us moms becomes, what feeds our inner wellness? If it’s the kids, then look out! Misplaced expectations will eventually catch up with us. But if it’s the presence of God and the promises of His Word, then look up. Plentiful peace and blessings will abound.

My soul waits for God alone, for my expectation comes from Him.

Psalm 62:5 – KJV

About Pam Kanaly   Read more by this author…

Aloha! I’m Pam Kanaly, President and co-founder of Arise Ministries. But actually, I think Arise found me wanting to bless single moms years ago. Ministry was never on my mind as a kid. All I wanted to be was a hula dancer. So Mother enrolled me in the tiny tots’ class. Guess God knew I’d have two grandbabies born in Hawaii. I love the great outdoors. You might even find me spending time with my husband grizzly bear watching or camping. In fact, it was on a turkey hunt that God gave me the name Arise Ministries in 2002. I suppose it’s a good thing that I majored in Grammar in college since I love to write words of encouragement to single moms.