"Set no expectations for others." That's the gist of what Pema Chodron, the American Buddhist nun with a gift for expressing Buddhist teachings simply, says about our desires -- and natural inclination -- to set goals for others. In my little Pocket Pema Chodron (ideal for a quick thought-provoker before meditating) she writes about her experience working with a drug addict. After weeks of progress, he relapsed and went on a binge. Chodron was angry at him and frustrated. Her teacher, Trongpa Rinpoche, set her on on a different path. That path, it seems to me, applies to our dealings with our goals for our grown children.
"You should never have expectations for other people," he told her. "Just be kind to them." Rather than have big goals for someone, invite them for dinner, give them little gifts, and do anything to bring a little happiness into their lives.
Rinpoche told her that setting goals for others can be aggressive--really wanting a success story for ourselves. When we do this to others, we are asking them to live up to our ideals. Instead, we should just be kind.
Could this be any more relevant to our relationship with our grown children, especially when they choose a path that's different from the one we envisioned for them--whether its in their life goals and career or just the way they choose to dress.