A while back I wrote about the expectations we have for our children. Sometimes we don’t even know we have them until they are shattered. That was certainly my experience when my son came out to me in 1989. While I wasn’t surprised to have him tell me he was gay, I was surprised at some of my reactions. I was heartbroken that he wasn’t going to get married and have children. That was MY vision for his future. And in 1989 I couldn’t even dream of the possibility of his being able to marry.
Another of my disappointments was that he didn’t go to college. I worried about what he would do with his life, how he would support himself, how he would ever be successful in a career without a college degree. I didn’t go to college and I’ve done quite well but there was still something in me that wondered if I wasn’t quite as good as someone who did and I projected that on him. What I told myself was that I wanted something better for him. What I didn’t see was how smart and resourceful he was. Thankfully, for him and for our relationship, we lived 450 miles apart! I cajoled and encouraged him to try again – go back to school. It didn’t work for him in the same ways it didn’t work for me.
What I see in looking back is that he had his own path and it was his to take. Trying to divert him from that path would not have done him any favors. I was trying to pound his square peg into a round hole. I didn’t quite see it, but I was not accepting! Today, he is quite happy and successful in a very good career, earning good money and supporting himself and his husband. He is well respected and continues to advance and receive promotions and awards where he works. I couldn’t be prouder!
How do you move from a place of expectations to acceptance? Please leave your tips in the comments.