Have you ever compared your grown son or daughter to a friend’s and secretly thought “how disappointed” you were in your child?
Your friend’s son graduated from one of the most prestigious universities in the country.
Your son attended three colleges and never graduated.
Your friend’s son earned his Masters Degree from the same prestigious university he attended as an undergrad. He’s had a number of super smart, but neurotic, girlfriends.
Your son started drinking heavily, couldn’t keep a job and lived with a heavily tattooed young woman who didn’t speak in full sentences.
Your friend’s son got a high-paying job at one of the most celebrated companies in Silicon Valley.
Your son couldn’t remember what he had for dinner last night.
Your friend’s son son continues to earn oodles at the tech company and to be involved with intelligent, but neurotic, girls.
Your son finally went to rehab; got a job utilizing his leadership talents; hasn’t had a drink for eight years; married a wonderful young woman with whom he has beautiful twins, and is a great father, husband and employee.
One of the most pathetic statements in the English language is: “I’m disappointed in you,” whether you’re saying it or hearing it.
So what if your friend’s son has a more advanced degree, a higher IQ and earns more than your son. Your son has done wonderful things for himself and that’s what matters.
So what if your sister-in-law, who has a big job and a fat paycheck, continually needles you about your decision to stay home to be a full-time mother, and suggests you “look for a job.” You’ve never been happier and that’s what matters.
So what if your svelte best friend suggests she’s “disappointed in you” because you can’t stop smoking and lose weight. You’re trying your best and what she thinks matters not.
If employees fail to live up to their promise, an employer can be “disappointed” in them. If a restaurant chef fails to serve fresh food, you can be “disappointed” in him. If you neglect your ailing mother, she can be “disappointed” in you. These situations represent the true meaning of disappointment: “To be sad or displeased because someone or something has failed to fulfill one’s hopes or expectations.”
But what you expect of yourself, and what you accomplish and possess, have nothing whatsoever—repeat nothing whatsoever—to do with what anyone else in the world expects of themselves, and what they accomplish and possess. This includes your own children.
And vice versa.
You have the power, potential and competence to make your life positive, productive and impactful. If you don’t use what you have, you can’t bemoan what you don’t have. And the only person who should disappoint you is you.