Give Your Child the Gift of 'No Expectations' - Common Sense Living Newsletter
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Give Your Child the Gift of 'No Expectations'

Nov 14, 2014


When I was little I would often fall asleep mid-sentence with my glasses on and snoring into a book. I know, even without waking up, that my mom would come in to put my glasses and book away every night.

This is what parents do - they put their hearts and souls, their days and nights, their hopes and dreams into their children.

And under that nurturing, loving, scolding embrace children bloom and grow. As they do in this video*:

Parent-child Relationships are Heartwarming

When children are little you revel in their little achievements - he rolled over all on his own, he stood up without any support, he said 'mama' and melted your heart... can you remember these moments?

She went to school, she drew a house, her first performance, she came first... how quickly she is growing....

Then what... he doesn't listen, he's not studying hard, Maths fail! Your heart breaks and so does his.

When does joy and pride in every little achievement of your child turn into unending disappointment in every little failure?

When I was taking my 12th standard exams I came out after a particular difficult Physics paper and found, to my complete shock, lots of people sitting on the college steps with their heads in their hands, several of them sobbing uncontrollably, like their lives were over!

They were under the impression that this exam was a make or break situation that would determine the rest of their lives. That they had messed up so badly as barely-formed teenagers that they would be branded failures, forever more. That they wouldn't get into the sciences or commerce and not become the doctors and engineers their parents brought them into the world to be.

Whatever did you bring them into the world to be? To be successful? To be achievers? To be well-behaved?

Or, to be loved? To be happy? To be inspired and passionate and full of dreams for their own lives (their own dreams not yours) ...?

You tell yourself it's for their own good - that you push them to excel because you want them to live the best life they can. But here's something to think about: the best life that you can think of may not necessarily be the best life for your child.

There is more to your child than what you see. There is more to him than the potential to succeed, the ability to win races, the smarts to become a topper, the charm to win over everyone in your extended family.

He is as human as you are - with failings, and disappointments, mingling with talents and happinesses.

He has a beating heart that is filled with love, and an adolescence filled with uncertain dreams. He is not the perfect angel the mother sees, the constant letdown the father sees.

He is human, and he is not yours to own nor yours to command, he is yours to bring into the world and love and guide, and that's it.

Khalil Gibran says it much better:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You don't know what he is or will become, and you cannot even imagine it. You simply cannot predict that, 'oh he is so smart he will grow up to become a scientist', or 'he is so sporty he will grow up to be a cricketer'.

"The path of development is a journey of discovery that is clear only in retrospect, and it's rarely a straight line." writes Eileen Kennedy-Moore, in her book Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child's True Potential.

Your job as parent is to support this development, not predict its end. And certainly not to decide its end and then insist that your child follow the straight line - or else you will be supremely disappointed.

For much of their lives most children, especially Indian children, care about one thing - to make their parents proud. If that doesn't seem to be happening, this aspiration changes - now, it's simply enough not to disappoint them. And if that doesn't work out the new path children choose is - forget what they think. I will start my own life. In the words of the philosophical writer Paulo Coelho:

Parents rarely let go of their children, so children let go of them.
They move on. They move away.
The moments that used to define them are covered by
moments of their own accomplishments.

But if you can show them up front, and often, that they make you proud, you will not lose them.

A child is a gift - a surprise, even - everyday you discover newness. You should be curious to see what he will become - in his own unique way. Not be waiting to see if he will ultimately fit your expectation of what he SHOULD become.

Eileen Kennedy-Moore also said: "The miracle of children is that we just don't know how they will change or who they will become."

By putting our children in boxes, we are not only limiting them, we are also robbing ourselves of the miracle that they are.

Many Indian parents know their children by report cards only - do you know who they really are?

What are their hopes and dreams? Their idea of a perfect life? Their favourite things?

What do they love to do, what kind of people they like, what kind of sense of humour they have?

What are they actually doing when their heads are buried in their phones and tablets? What are their thoughts on life and love and the things that matter?

If your relationship with your children is dominated by 'Do this, don't do that' then you are losing out on a very precious opportunity for a close relationship. And you are risking losing the one thing on earth you should be closest to. As Paulo Coelho goes on to say:

It is not until much later, that
children understand;
their stories and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories
of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones,
beneath the water of their lives.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and your children will eventually grow to realize, understand and embrace the things that you stand for.

But when a child is growing up, the way you behave can determine the size of the gulf that forms between you - separating you. Some call it the generation gap - but I believe it is the expectations gap.

The gap between your expectations for your child, and their insecurities that this is a burden they cannot carry that forces them to step away from you.

This Children's Day evaluate whether you are burdening your child with expectations of a life that may not be theirs.

Instead of looking at them as a hope for a future you see in them, look at them as the individual human beings they are now. Instead of loving them, today, for once, get to know them, so that you can not only just love them, but also like them, and give them a hug to show it.

*I’ve included this video because of its content, I am absolutely not promoting the product.


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44 Responses to "Give Your Child the Gift of 'No Expectations'"

Dr. D. K. Bhattacharyya

23 Oct, 2016

A very well articulated and heart-touching message. Expectations indeed are limitless and harmful. But one must carefully ponder over parenting without having one-sided view. Yes whatever the potentiality the child has has to be boosted, but many a times a child may not be able to identify his or her goal or potentiality by herself where the selfless advice of the parents are required. Further, the age of the children is such that they feel"everything that glitters is gold" and it is here that guidance of the parents are undenyably required. The parent-child relationship is divine and accusing one part by the other part is always damaging. Further peer pressure is a huge detrimental factor in this relationship for both the parent as well as the child. There is need for unhindered discussion amongst the children and parents can only solve the problem. Its wrong to say that every parent is dominating, but its equally wrong to over-burden the child. These type of posts have come not due to generation or expectation gap, but its due to loss of basic traditions of own country and blindly following a culture where the word family practically holds no meaning.

Like (1)

Kasish Saw

09 Mar, 2016

its an awesome article and heart touching too....!!!


09 Feb, 2016


kalyan kumar Sandilya

22 May, 2015

Your article is not just an article. It's a way to remind me whatever I did for parenting it was a wrong approach. So from today onwards I will try to take right way. Full of emotions &blinking intellectuallity in this topic I found aha! effect. I force d my wife & college going daughter to read this article. Because I feel it from my soul. In this way keep me up always. A big he artful thank you.

Like (1)

Mangal Puri

20 May, 2015

Hii, Anisa, You have explored the truth of Mother Nature. I was just unaware of this while growing up my kids. I could not enjoy childhood of my kids I think due to expectations. But I hope my children now give the Gift of " No Expectations " to my grand Children.


25 Dec, 2014

Anisa I appreciate your article and the response of various parents. I do admit that being part of the same environment I could not provide the factor which I am to record here for every body to read. our total environment programs our mind exactly like, in case of a computer. All great spiritual master call it a tragedy of human life & society. This fact kills the creative potential of human brain . Parents must act as trusty of children , arranging all needs. Create atmosphere of selfless love. Parents must identify natural inclinations, likings & leanings of the child.. Child may be inclined, emotionally, intellectually inclined or be a balanced combination of the two . Parents rigid expectations from their progeny add to tensions in child' life. Present day education system , world over needs uprooting. Parents of future, even before entering into any kind of relation ship leading to birth of a child, must under go a training of parenting .

Like (1)


23 Dec, 2014

Basically, our indian education system has to be changed. To get admissions in so called good colleges, only marks are valued and not other characters. Now a days, moral instruction classes are totally wiped out from syllabus.

Vikas Mehta

20 Nov, 2014

I agree, if we can somehow imbibe the philosophy of no expectation in kids and I think only way to do it is teach them fishing rather the giving it on a platter, as they become confident of themselves only than they will stop depending on others for their needs.

rupa murali

20 Nov, 2014

Hiee anisa, your articles are really thought provoking and inspiring.. keep writing...


19 Nov, 2014

very true . please understand as early as possible. it will make your life and your children's life as good . do not expect from them allow them to grow and support them if possible , otherwise leave them to decide their own destiny and complete their dreams

Ashesh Banerjee

19 Nov, 2014

An excellent article on parenting. So very true. Nicely said about the generation gap. keep sharing Anisa.

v.s. verma

17 Nov, 2014

Very good article, now parents, expect to achieve from their children, what they could not achieve in their life. May I request you Anisa to suggest some inspirational books for teenagers.


17 Nov, 2014

Teenage parenting is the most difficult part of parenting. Till the child is below 12 years old, she will be very attached and obedient to the parents but once teenage sets in, big troubles come along with it. She will realize that after all the parents are also fallible and they may not be right all the time. There will be arguments and back-answering and for the inexperienced parent of a teenager, things can come to boiling point pretty soon. Anisa’s article throws some interesting advice. Dominating all the time can lead to catastrophe in the long run and the right approach is to intervene sparingly when there is deviation from good values and behaviours. I am in my forties and most people my age have teenage children. Our problem is specific – we were the last generation to live our childhood without remote TVs, satellite channels, smart phones, Watsapp, Laptops, Tablet PCs, etc. and our children are the first generation to use all these gadgets. Hence, the challenges are more for us because of the inexperience. It needs lot of practice and patience to get things right with current generation teenagers.


17 Nov, 2014

What an excellent article - beautifully written - I have 2 kids and I believe every word that you say and have been doing it from the day they were born. Both are home schooled, they laugh their hearts out every day and are HAPPY, which makes us both parents HAPPY. We have taught them to find 'content' and 'happiness', rather than keeping up with the Jones - at the same time explore their own talents - just gently nudging them from time to time. Once again - very nice article.

Rama Rajan

16 Nov, 2014

Excellent analytical article. At times parents unfulfilled desires which also contributes to the expectations from the children without understanding that one desires need not be your children's desire also.

Vijay Sharma

16 Nov, 2014

Really thought provoking for parents to understand children.

Badri Narain Agarwal

15 Nov, 2014

Really Hearttouching and clearly also a lesson for parents making stress on their children and expecting very high and high and high.............

Ralph Rau

15 Nov, 2014

Above all parents need to make a lot of time to share with their kids. This is not easy if both parents decide to pursue demanding careers at the expense of their kids and treat time with the kids as a sacrifice. And of course keep asking your kids what they would like to do and why they would like to do it. Finally challenge them to be the best that they can be in their chosen field. That is their solemn duty.

Jawahar Lal Jad

15 Nov, 2014

It is a very good article .i wish it should work ,but Indian parents. Loose all comforts of life for development of their children day and night ,not for expectations but for love ,and fully involved in affairs of their Children till their future is secured . Mirza Galib said ! Dil kov bhahlanay key Leyte, yeh khaal bi acha ,Galib


15 Nov, 2014

Compliments to Anisa Virji for an eye opener article.The views of the writer are their own,but it depends on us how we perceive? The all world is entangled with the number game & the children are losing their childhood in the numbers.My Son has sent me the lines on whats app which are worth reading & I would like to share with all . Ek bachpan ka jamana tha, jisme khushion ka khazana tha. Chahat chand ko pane ki thi, par dil titli ka diwana tha khabar na thi kuchh subah ki,na sham ka thikana tha. Maa ki kahani thi ,parion ka fasana tha. barish me kagaz ki nav thi ,har mausam suhana tha. har khel me sathi the ,har rishta nibhana tha. Kyon ho gaye hum bade isse achha to bachpan ka jamana tha. Regards Happy children;s day Save Bachpan


15 Nov, 2014

Beautifully written. Will embrace the message.


15 Nov, 2014

Soul touching children are our path maker

KP Singh

15 Nov, 2014

Good Article ! Frankly, I am not sure if any parent impose hardline pressure on their kids to be a doctor or engineer. I am of opinion that pressure to excel is important and that's another matter how we convey this message to kids. Kids don't mind watching TV or movies for long hours but sitting for couple of hours for studies is painful experience for them and society begin to name it as pressure. Kids behaves in a particular way because they are watching our activities. We parents lack decipline in our life as role models, so importance of displine never goes down to kids as indispensable element in life. Today as adults we attend time management courses becuase we never understood the idea of displine during our education period. Those who unknowingly understood became doctors, engineers, scientists, enterpreneurs and what not. It's just decipline that shape our future and allow us to pursue our dreams. Till certain time/standard kids needed to be given direction so that displine can be infused in their life as necessary element. I request you to design an article that could convey a practical approach to make our kids better students, not just during the time of their education but also when they take bigger tasks in their life. Best student is one who receives the direction and idea well and delivers best results. Number game is outcome of Government policies towards student enrollment in higher education, thus Government should be cursed for number game and not parents.

Kanimozhi Poongundran

15 Nov, 2014

Really opens mentally

Mohan Macherla

15 Nov, 2014

Superb and good article for all parents. MOHAN

Mohan Macherla

15 Nov, 2014

Useful article. Thanks a lot. Mohan

R Tayal

15 Nov, 2014

So very true, but equally true that both parents & children of today (esp. in India) see education as merely academic "excellence" aimed at securing a lucrative career (almost like a mercenary), rather than as a means to grow into an enlightened, well rounded & responsible citizen. We really need to re-define "Excellence" & "Success" for these are nothing without compassion and responsibility towards nation & society.


15 Nov, 2014

Another great topic from Anisa - great reading and knowledge. Keep sharing

jyotsna gudupalli

15 Nov, 2014

excellent and eye-opening Thank You

Hanuman Prasad Gupta

15 Nov, 2014

A very good article for all the parents. I've always followed what Khalil Gibran said.

Srinivasan G

15 Nov, 2014

Very nice post for children's day


15 Nov, 2014

Rearing of young one is an art which is more of god gifted and less of the people like the author of this article. Secondly, what ever you suggest may be better in your eyes and may be worse in others appealing. Bismillah khan would like his son to do practice on musical instruments which the present author may detest. Leave it---- field is controversial.

vasudev chari

15 Nov, 2014



15 Nov, 2014

I would like to comment in one word. Its True!


15 Nov, 2014

outstanding, as usual

Tanusree Deb

14 Nov, 2014

It's so true Anisa--an eye-opener indeed !


14 Nov, 2014

Do your duties without expecting anything applies in bringing up our children also. Inculctate discipline in them, but the same time give them freedom to develop as per their choice and wish.


14 Nov, 2014

Great Article

D D Kochar

14 Nov, 2014

Expectations from your children is putting yourself down though this is the philosophy being followed in India. 'BUDHAPE KI LAATHI LAATHI' is a misnomer in tadays' time. Like we take care of our children,they are supposed to look after their children when they come into this world. Nevertheless to forget your elders in their grey time is also not a caring thought,

n k patet

14 Nov, 2014

what is written is good but some how flawed in our Indian context. Here what one wants is not necessarily available; hence most indians get satisfied with what they get. children get distracted and tend to go to wrong path and parents know that if they do not act tough now, they will lament all their all life not being firm enough that early time. whatsmore even the wayward child turned adult will blame his/her parents and so will society. I wish the authoress will take this view also into consideration.

Sebastian Joseph Nellariyil

14 Nov, 2014

appreciate the concept and approach.

Ravi Kapoor

14 Nov, 2014

Hello Anisa, My compliments on a well written piece. It compelled me to reflect over how, many years ago, my wife and I interacted as parents with both our daughters (now married) when they were growing up. While the elder one enjoyed a 'no expectations' relationship and was self-motivated, I must admit that with the younger one, it was a different situation. We and the school teachers inadvertently compared the two and set up expectations (many of them unfulfilled) leading to much anguish and avoidable conflict. I agree with your views that parents must limit their role to providing unconditional love, guidance, building robust values and physical safety while allowing the child to discover his/her potential. Regards


14 Nov, 2014

A Child is the Father of Man. Happy Children's Day.. It is always easy to carry over SMILE but on practice you should go miles to show your love and affection.

Mahmood Merchant

14 Nov, 2014

Nice Anisa. Well done!


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