Don’t Make Assumptions

Mar 20, 2014

The third of don Miguel Ruiz’ “Four Agreements” sounds simple enough:  Don't Make Assumptions.  But the application of this to living with children is not so easy.

When we make assumptions it’s because we believe we know what others are thinking and feeling. When it comes to our children, we blindly assume their lives will mirror our own.   “Of course you love Brussel sprouts!  Everyone in our family loves Brussel sprouts!”

And yet, from their first breath, our children have experiences that are different from our own.  Was your childhood exactly like your children’s?  Of course not.  It’s unrealistic to think they’ll form the same opinions and aptitudes that we have.

How can we escape our own assumptions about our kids?  The best way may be simple and obvious:  ask them what they think, what they enjoy, and what they hope for.  Their answers to these questions will guide us to understand them in a more authentic way rather than assuming they are clones of ourselves.  Asking questions also lets them know we are genuinely interested in what they think.

My friend Matthew tells that when he was a boy, his dad was not around much.  He longed for a father who would take him to baseball practices and games.

When Matthew became a father to son Jarrod, he assumed Jarrod would have the same hopes.  When Jarrod was old enough, Matthew signed him up for baseball.  He rearranged his work schedule to be able to get Jarrod to practice twice a week.

One day he called home, really upset he wouldn’t be able to take Jarrod to practice.  Jarrod brightened when his dad said he’d be home later and they could play a board game.  “That’s ok, Dad.  I’d rather do that anyway!”

Stunned, Matthew realized he’d assumed he knew what his son wanted based on his own experiences.  Jarrod, who’d enjoyed a very “present” father since birth, had an entirely different agenda for their relationship.

Our assumptions bear examination.  Clarity in communication and a listening ear enable us to enjoy our children and to create the unique, loving relationship with them that fits our family best.