From birth we are bestowed a long list of expectations. Our lives are like a roadmap, influence will determine our path. Our normal attributes will force us to participate in this destiny. At conception our family and community already have placed us on point A on a map and have given us a very small radius in which to travel.
Within minutes of birth our expectations are already mounted very high. These expectations will result in reactions as we exceed, meet or miss them.
A child who meets and exceeds these expectations more frequently than misses will have a more positive environment. A child who misses more than meets or exceeds these expectations will have a more negative environment.
Expectations set before and at birth are unfair in nature since a person has no control over them. Interesting how the expectations we have the least control over can impact our lives so dramatically. No one chooses to be born.
Your gender determines a large part of what is expected of you. If you are born male, expectations are that you will be masculine. If you are born a female expectations are that you will be feminine.
Masculine characteristics are defined as; athletic, strong, competitive, assertive, logical, disciplinarian and dominant. Feminine characteristics are defined as; lack of competitiveness, aggressive nature, independence, passivity, nurturer and submissiveness. Although we may not agree with the definition of masculine or feminine, society has generally accepted these stereotypes.
In 1974 Jeffery Rubin interviewed a group of 30 mothers and 30 fathers in the first 24 hours after the birth of their children. In the study there were an equal number of boys to girls. Typically in 1974 women were the only parent to hold their newborn child in the first 24 hours after birth. The fathers could observe their child from the hospital nursery window. In the study the fathers where asked a series of questions about their newborn. The interviews with the fathers of the female newborns revealed that most saw their daughter as “softer, finer featured, more awkward, more inattentive, weaker and more delicate”. The interview with the fathers of males saw for the most part their sons as “firmer, larger featured, better coordinated, more alert, stronger and hardier. At this age there are no gender defining feature differences except for genitalia. The only real difference is our expectations of how girls and boys are supposed to be.
These gender expectations that we are born with can significantly influence our lives. Even if our family does not adhere to these expectations, society does and unless we live on a deserted island, they will influence us in some manner.
“She has her mother’s eyes and her father’s nose” is a common first impression from family or friends. Since the child is the combination of the parents, the expectation is that the child will look like them. In many cases this is true, but the question is does the baby really have her mother’s eyes and her father’s nose or is the comment a natural reaction to a common expectation.
Parents have expectations about what their child should look like including height, weight, eye color, and hair color before the child is even born.
Smart parents produce smart children is an immediate expectation put onto a child. If mom went to Harvard then the expectation is that her child should achieve the same or better.
Expectations in education can dramatically effect a person’s life achievements by expecting too much or too little from them.
If we are born into a religious family then likely our faith expectations are already set. Religious families typically expect their children to adopt the same faith and beliefs as at least one of the parents. In some religions, being born male or female creates expectations which can shape their entire life.
A newborn is immediately expected to be healthy. Health expectations, if missed, can create a dramatic change, as discussed earlier, to the future expectations of the parents.
A large part of what is expected of us comes from our families past. If three generations of males in our family have served in the military, then it is likely if we are the fourth generation, to have expectations to serve. This inheritance of expectations can include personality, physical, intelligence, creativity, ingenuity, appearance (as discussed already) and even temperament. If women from a family have a long history of being aggressive, then this expectation will be passed on to future generations of women. These expectations ask the question of whether a person who has inherited them really has these qualities or has been just attempting to live up to them.