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Managing Dad's expectations

Okay, so here’s the thing: have you ever felt like you’re not good enough for dad? Like, he wants you to be more, and expects you to be someone you are not? Honestly, I know I have.

Let me start by saying this, expectations can be a good thing. Your dad wants the best for you, and he wants to be the best person you can be. He is driving you to be a better person, learn, grow and all those great things. He sees potential in you and knows who you could become if you just worked hard.

That being said, dad’s expectations can become a problem. He might expect you to be perfect. He might push you to do things that he loves, rather than what you love. He might control everything you do. He might compare you to your sibling to make you feel bad about achievements. All of this is not okay. It can damage your self-esteem, your confidence and have long lasting effects on how you see yourself.

Dads are always going to have expectations of us, but if they get too much, they need to be managed. You need to take the bull by the horns and talk to them. You need to have an open and clear conversation about how their expectations make you feel.

Having this kind of talk is scary, you might disappoint your dad, or make him angry. The best thing you can do is talk to him when you are both calm and relaxed. Think carefully about what you are going to say beforehand. Be careful not to hurt him too much. Don’t attack him, that will only make things worse. Avoid saying things like “YOU’RE LITERALLY THE WORST DAD IN THE WORLD”. Yeah…don’t do that. Instead, here are few things you can do:

Prepare well. Before you talk to him, write down your thoughts about the issue. Talk to someone else, maybe a friend, about how you feel. See if your feelings are valid.

Find out why. Ask your dad why he expects the things he does. Find out the reasons for his expectations. Maybe his expectations come from a good place. This will also help him to think about his own expectations, he might just realise they are unfair. (Fingers crossed).

Focus on how you feel and not what he does. This will help you avoid being too mean. So rather than saying “You are the worst because you expect me to be the best chess player in the world”, say “I know you want the best for me, but I feel really stressed and uncomfortable because I don’t think chess is for me”. If he says he doesn’t care, ask why.

Find out what you have in common. Ask him what expectations in his life make him feel stressed or worried, and then match your worries with his. Make him see that his life is no different to yours.

Be patient. These things take time to fix. It might take one conversation, it might not. Keep working at it until you find a solution that works for both of you.


Change your perspective and uncover a way forward for you!

Here are some things that can help you with that.

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Setting Boundaries by Dr Rebecca Ray
It is about pursuing the things that set our soul on fire, loving deeply without losing ourselves, and better resisting the demands and expectations of others.

Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen
This book follows a Chinese-American girl named Ever, who is crumpling under the pressure of her parents' expectations.

Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker
This is a moving novel that is an ode to introverts, dreamers, and misfits everywhere. It questions what a hero looks like in real life? And what can two misfit kids do?


The joys and pitfalls of growing up are seen through the eyes of a child named Mason, his parents, and his sister.

Lady Bird
A teenage girl faces a lot of ups and downs in her relationships during her senior year in high school.

A New Zealand youth finds that his father is a far cry from the heroic adventurer he's imagined the man to be.


To be honest, there are not many playlists about ‘managing expectations’, so instead, here is a playlist that might make you feel better.


The Palm Whine Podcast
This is an exciting and motivational podcast which addresses relevant topics to help young people navigate through life.

Over It And On With It
This episode is about having difficult conversations with our parents. It discusses a boy trying to avoid being triggered when he speaks to his father.

Over It and On With It
This episode discusses the situation of parents placing too many expectations on their children, where their children may grow into adults that don’t know what they truly want.

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