Lowering Expectations

One sure way to increase happiness this holiday is to lower the expectations you have for others to perform.

Relationships can make any holiday tough, especially when your Adult Children are juggling their time between you, other relatives, and their new adult friends.

When we are tempted to self-pity or sadness about our lack of time with our adult children we have to remember:

We can choose our attitudes, which will drive our actions during this holiday season to be more peaceful and unifying.


This is fourth in a series on: Putting More Happy in our Holidays! 

The goal this week:

acceptance vs. expectation.


If you had a time machine, what is the one suggestion you would go back and share with your 30-year-old self? 

My first answer to that question is EASY:


The memories that make me cringe are ALWAYS the ones where I allowed my emotions to get away from me because I had set the expectations TOO HIGH!


As a  high achieving family, our STRIVE for Excellence sometimes spilled over into our holiday planning.  OF COURSE, we thought we could make a four hour car trip, visit three sets of parents and grandparents, feed the kids WAY too much sugar and expect them to act like ANGELS in front of the relatives!

Naturally, I thought I could keep the girls up cooking until midnight, the boys up to the same hour loading the presents and expect everyone to roll out of bed with a happy face the next morning to start the trip to the grandparents.

Sarcasm can’t even make those disastrous holidays sound better: they were nightmares waiting to happen. 

The phrase, “shoot yourself in the foot” was invented for me during the busy overachieving years. 

I had to learn the harsh truth: I was going to disappoint someone during the holiday. Aunt Betty would surely not understand if we didn’t make it to the Christmas party two hours away during the work week. But otherwise, I was REALLY disappointing my kids and husband by being such a GROUCH! 

And now…I have to give grace to my 30-year-children like I wanted someone to give grace to my 30-year-old self.


Although I would love to bake cookies with, wrap gifts with, and basically just BE WITH my adult children for hours during the holiday, I cannot expect all this from them. 

I have to be realistic and extend the kind of grace to them that I needed: I must want them to enjoy the time we have together without compromising their own holiday happiness!

If I can focus on the child(ren) right in front of me (and not the ones who are absent) and enjoy every moment I am with that child, then I can let the unmet expectations melt like snow on a sunny day.

AND we will ALL have a happier holiday.

Author: Dr. Johnnie K. Seago

Johnnie Seago is a national conference speaker who is passionate about building leadership in families. As the mother to eight adult children, she desires families to learn to connect and communicate to build a community of support. She extends her leadership and team building experience to schools, businesses, and civic groups. Johnnie’s messages equip leaders to: Find their strength in the design God used to create them Find their purpose for which God created them Partner with others for support in reaching goals Commit to the dreams God has placed on their heart Become accountable for their success as leaders Johnnie’s ministry to families includes: Helping families transition from childhood to adulthood Teaching parents to communicate with their adult children Working through difficult situations as teens become adults Providing resources and ideas for productive grand-parenting Johnnie and her husband, Ted has been married for 40 years. They live in the suburbs of Houston, Texas on a lake where they enjoy boating and water sports and the occasional day of floating and reading.

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