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#26: Letting Go of Expectations When It Comes To Our Kids

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As parents, we all want to create security and prosperity for our children. Suri shares 3 tips on how we can learn how to let go of expectations, to help our kids thrive. 


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TRANSCRIPT – edited for clarity

INTRO: Hi sweet friends, I’m Suri Stahel. Welcome to Episode 26 of Doing Things on Purpose – the podcast that empowers women to take charge of their time, health, relationships, and money by doing things on purpose.

This week, I wanted to talk about letting go of expectations when it comes to our kids. 

MOM CHECK-IN: But before we start, let’s do a quick mom check-in. 

How have you been this past week parents? 

🪷 Have you been eating well, exercising, and sleeping enough? – Those simple but basic blocks to human thriving that we often forget about. 

🪷 Have you spent time in quiet, without social media or technology, for a decent amount of time this week? 

I’m still doing yoga every morning at home, and the sitting meditation practice I mentioned in episode #25. For those interested, I’ll include a link to that and to Yoga With Adriene’s May playlist which I subscribe to, in the show notes.

And additionally, I’m still committed to having tech-free and screen-free Sundays with my family. 

It’s still a temptation, but together we’re stretching our capacity to resist. It’s crazy how somehow, all our must-do items just feel like they need to get done on this ONE day that we’re not allowed to use our smartphones and screens.

But I think refraining from something we know is not good for us, is just a muscle that grows stronger with practice. So for now, I’m just sitting with that discomfort, and noticing the extra time I have to do all those other things that never seem to make it up the priority list like:

  • repotting the plants
  • washing the curtains
  • changing the sheets
  • playing an extra board game
  • or just having long conversation

I hope you’ve started to give yourself permission too, to tweak or realign your life a little bit more towards the pace and the direction that your heart longs for. Because you only have this one life to enjoy and tend to. 

Letting go of expectations when it comes to our kids

So let’s get down to the topic of today’s episode: Letting go of expectations when it comes to our kids.

This came about because just two weeks ago, I had to send a note to my kids’ music teachers – one of them’s learning the piano and the other’s learning the e-guitar. The note said that they won’t be continuing with their lessons after this spring/summer semester. 

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but the intro and closing guitar tune on all of my podcast episodes was written and played by my eldest daughter who was 10 at the time (now she’s 11).

And so it’s a little bittersweet, that as I go on, and her music lives on in this podcast – that this is a thread in her life that won’t be going on. 

Of course I don’t know what the future holds. Maybe she’ll pick up guitar again. Who knows?

But assuming she doesn’t… It got me thinking about this idea that it’s truthfully very difficult for us parents to not hold certain expectations for our kids.

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you know that I was promoting and tuning in to the Empowered Parents Summit which featured 45+ parenting and child development experts, which ran from the 15-19th of April 2024. It wasn’t a paid promotion by the way – just something I’m interested in learning about.

And again, it brought me back to the simple thought that so much of the messaging that parents seem to keep needing to hear and be reminded of is:

#1: Focus our work as parents, on being safe and steady leaders

Safe meaning that we’re our children’s strongest supporters, never shaming and never using our love, affection and attention as threats or bargaining tools. We always seem to get stuck in those.

And steady meaning that we’re confident leaders. We know how to set healthy boundaries and how to create the right conditions to cultivate the kinds of relationships that we desire to experience have, in our family. 

💎 It’s being clear about which decisions are ours to own:

  • The kinds of foods we offer
  • Rules about sleeping and getting enough of it
  • Boundaries around tech time

💎 …Versus responsibilities which are our children’s to own:

  • How much they eat
  • Their hobbies
  • Their choice of friends
  • Their homework

I know that where homework is concerned, it’s kind of a gray area. Because we feel the pressure from the school system and the teachers to not help too much, but at the same time, not to help too little.

Something that might make it easier on us to stay on our side of the line, is to think:

Would my child feel safer and more supported if I helped put a boundary around this, or build a support around this – or rather, would they feel disempowered?

For instance, we might only offer our children support when they ask for it, or when we notice that they’re struggling. That can be perfectly fine.

But the key is to ask, and realize that our asking is just an offer. 

We’re not trying to convince them of anything. 

Can we let them own their failures, as well as all their glorious successes and wins to come. 

#2: Fully honor any time that we decide to spend with our kids

Whether it’s minutes or hours – by being ready to receive them, putting away our tech, giving our full attention, and being really open to where our children want to lead us in terms of play or a conversation.

It’s funny, because this is what I’m learning to do and what we call in the coaching world as “holding space.” 

To me in many ways, the path towards becoming an aware and empathic parent is similar to that of a coach’s journey of self-development and self-coaching, in order to be a self-empowering space holder for others.

💎 By learning self-compassion, we are then better able to give more compassion to our kids.

💎 By learning radical responsibility, we learn to give radical responsibility to our kids. 

💎 By allowing ourselves to make mistakes, to grow and stretch through our missteps, we can then learn to acknowledge and appreciate all the trips and falls that our children are going to make in their own life journey as well.

#3 Trust our children’s journey, in all its forms and imperfections

This is a big one. 

For me, trusting our children’s journey doesn’t mean that we won’t hold dreams and hopes for them and see their potential. It’s what most parents naturally do. 

It’s about being willing to always ground back to the idea of trusting our child’s individual development, and attuning to their developing interests. And deeply knowing that they were born to fulfill, experience and live out their own lives and dreams – rather than ours. 

Yes, we all want our kids to feel a sense of belonging, to do well in school, to go to university, to get a stable and hopefully well-paying job, to pick the right friends and marry the right spouse. So that they can have perfect children or live an ultimately secure and happy life. 

That’s assuming that what we think is right for us, is right for them too.

But if we pause a moment, we begin to realize how limited this view really is. How much energy, time, money and closeness in the relationship, that might have suffered in our effort to tick all of these “right” boxes. 

We can start to shift this.

In the parenting summit I mentioned earlier, Ned Johnson, co-author of the book The Self-Driven Child, reminded parents that children, just like any of  us – naturally want their lives to work out too. 

Maybe the path isn’t as clear to them in the beginning, as they and we would like it to be. And that’s okay too. We can explore with our children healthy ways to cope and to sit with that discomfort – that unknowing. We can build resilience.

Because both the joys as well as the challenges are just a part of life. 

💎 When we take the long view, we see that our children are just beginning. Everything is just a moment, and part of their long journey in life. 

If we try to lead, manipulate or influence their life direction too much, we always end up muddying the waters and getting in the way. 

We hurt instead of help.

We teach them to trust and depend on our opinions and our judgements, instead of their own.

❌ We teach them to believe in other people’s advice instead tuning in to their own intuition.

I’m not a perfect parent either and I have to keep reminding myself often too, that our children can and should be trusted – and that making mistakes is okay.

Within the safe boundaries that we’ve set up for them, they can and should be encouraged to trust themselves – not us, not their peers, and certainly not social media when it comes to what they should want, who they should be, or how they should look like. 

So my job as a parent is just to support them in all their interests, however small or big, as long as it’s not harmful. And if I feel called, to educate myself so I can give them a more expanded view of what’s possible in their areas of interest – still knowing that I’m probably just scratching the surface.

Because what’s possible in the future has not yet been written. 

In Short: Show don’t tell

In summary, if you’re a parent whose goal is to support and to do no harm to your children, I invite you to work on letting go of expectations that you might have inherited, or those that you might even be unconsciously holding on to, when it comes to your kids. 

Because their life, their dreams and their boundaries are their own to discover and test. We can only set the stage with our gentle guidance and unwavering, loving regard.

Let’s remember the age-old advice that we’re all called to follow – to do and not to tell. 

Well, not ‘just’ to tell because I’m all for spreading useful messages. But as parents, we can work on modeling more, rather than saying more. 

💎 We can start by doing these three things:

  1. Focus our work on being safe and steady leaders.
  2. Fully honor any time that we do get to spend with our kids. To be present. It takes practice. Think of it as a living meditation – just allowing what comes next. 
  3. Trust our children’s journey, in all its forms and imperfections – by starting with trusting our own.

Some questions that might be useful to ask ourselves might be:

  • What lifts you up? 
  • What holds you back?
  • How do you like to get inspired, to learn and to grow?
  • How do you want to feel everyday?
  • How can you be more intentional with your time, energy and boundaries to create that feeling for you?

Please consider making time for yourself, just as you would make time for your children, your spouse, your work and everything else you care about. Because you matter too.

Finding support where you need it, and how you like it

In the next episode, I’ll probably be sharing some key learnings I’ve collected from another summit called the Wisdom 2.0 Summit with Soren Gordhammer. I think it’s probably summit season right now.

This summit is about  the intersection between technology and mindful living.

This is the second year I’ve been following this event, and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a community of mindful people to connect with.

It’s the second year I’ve been following this event and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a community to connect with. I’ll include a link to that in the show notes.

And you know that just like you, I value my time. So I only make room for a few of these types of events per year, on anything that really peaks my interest. 

✉️ I’d love to hear what events or communities that you feel are worth connecting to. You can write to me at

If you need support, or have questions on topics that you’d love me to discuss on the podcast, you can let me know there as well. 

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode.

👍 If so, please consider sharing it with a friend, leaving a positive rating and review, or connecting with me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube.

Thanks again for making the time to listen in with me, Suri. This is Doing Things on Purpose, and I’ll catch you again next time.

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