Reasonable Expectations

As We Move Forward: Reasonable Expectations

How do you know what you can reasonably expect from a relationship? That may sound like a fairly straightforward question, but in reality the answer may involve more than we might imagine. Relationships, even very basic, simple ones have many dynamics.

Parent & Child

Take a fundamental relationship like the one between parent and child. The parent is assumed to love the child and always place the child’s interests ahead of their own. Most of the time this seems to work pretty well. What complicates things are all the factors taking place in the life of the parent that may seem to have nothing to do with the child, but which actually have a great deal to do with how the parent interacts with the child.

If the parent is experiencing stress in their own life, whether it is personal or work-related, this can have a direct bearing on the relationship between parent and child. Reasonable expectations for a child to have in a stable, loving home can be far different than reasonable expectations in a home where stressors, such as financial insecurity, abuse of alcohol or other substances or other factors outside the child’s direct experience may have a serious impact on what are reasonable expectations.

This can happen in settings like school and work. Things happening in the personal life of a teacher, supervisor or co-worker can change what are reasonable expectations, sometimes without our even being aware of what is going on. Unfortunately, our culture tends to place more value on critical reactions, than measured, reasonable responses. A sudden change in behavior in one of these relationships may be easier to identify and understand than one that is long term.


This can even affect casual relationships. It is reasonable to expect that a server or a salesperson will provide the product or service in a polity, even friendly manner. The things going on in their life at the moment may turn  things around to the point that it seems they are doing us a favor by doing thing that could be reasonably assumed to be their job.

As we move forward, we should try to always remember the unique opportunity being in relationships with others gives us to have an impact on someone else’s life. Whenever things don’t seem quite right, we can take a step back and try to understand what is going on.

I believe we each do the best we can given what we know. As we move forward, I encourage you to make it your goal to know as much as possible in each of your relationships to do everything you can to insure that each of your relationships are as reasonable and productive as possible. It is a worthy goal. Let us move forward together.

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