Expectations pollutes Love

From our e-book “We are Here to Celebrate”

The word ‘love’ has different meanings for different people. In this world of duality, love comes with conditions and expectations. When we say ‘I love you’, our mouths stop at that but our minds have not finished the sentence. It adds the word ‘if’ after the sentence.

tilt shift lens photography of woman wearing red sweater and white skirt while holding a boy wearing white and black crew neck shirt and blue denim short

The kind of love that brings peace is unconditional love, the type of love without the ‘if’ attached to it. Our love for our babies is the best example of what unconditional love is. After all, what can you expect from a baby other than to be a baby? Ah, but when they grow, our expectations grow. We start to add the ‘if’ to our love. I love you if you do your chores. I love you if you do well in your exams. The love becomes conditional and becomes controlling.

Conditional love says I want to be happy in our relationship. Unconditional love says no matter what happens, I want you to be happy. How I feel is not important. We are one. That is what the Spiritual Masters mean when they say that we should not be attached to  our loved ones. They are telling us to give them the highest kind of love; unconditional love.

This is a true story except that I have changed the names. Rick believes that to succeed in life we must be number one. He lived this way all his life and as a result, frequently falls ill. He also imposes this belief on his daughter Serene. Serene went to two kindergartens, one in the morning and another in the evening. In addition to the homework from the kindergartens, Rick will also make up work exercises for Serene to complete. When Serene went to Primary School, she was top of her class but never had evenings at the park. She only gets to go to the park on Sunday evenings. She did not enjoy it much because she felt clumsy compared to her friends who seems to be more firm with their hands and feet. She could only watch in envy when her friends zoomed around on their bicycles. She never learned how to ride one.

Eventually, the pressure got the better of her and she became rebellious. She fell from being the top student to the fifth position in her class. Rick was very mad and disappointed. As a result, Serene felt unloved as a person and her self-confidence declined.

University of Pennsylvania adolescent medicine specialist, Kenneth Ginsburg, said his patients included high school students whose parents told them they did not need to bother to go to college if they did not get to Harvard or Yale. Sometimes, he noted, teenagers who say they cannot imagine life without a packed schedule and profess to ‘love’ hours of extracurricular activities, are really afraid of disappointing their parents by opting out or scaling back. One student’s schedule was so packed that she even felt guilty for bursting into tears because she thought of it as wasting valuable time! [1]

We as parents want our children to be happy. The question is, when do we want them to be happy? Remember, craving is an attachment to an imaginary future happiness. It involves sacrificing our present happiness for an imaginary future. We often make the same mistake with our children. For example, one may be attached to the image of one’s child becoming a doctor in the future resulting in one putting excessive pressure on one’s child to achieve academic results. Or one could be overwhelmed by an imagined future suffering and pictures one’s child living in poverty. It does not matter whether it is an imagined future happiness or suffering; both results in high expectations of our children in the present moment. Childhood once lost can never be recovered. Let us set limits with love not expectations. Let them enjoy their childhood for we do not know what the future holds for them.

Another minus with expectations is that it clouds our ability to recognise the potentials of our children. If one think that there is no money in dancing, one may not recognise that one’s child has that hidden talent. On the other hand, if we do not have any expectations of them, we can allow them to blossom into fields which they are excellent in. We want them to be happy. We want them to be who they are and not what they think we expect them to be. We must allow them to be themselves and for that to happen, our love for them must be unconditional.

[1] Source; The Star dated 10 August 2008.

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