How to Manage Expectations

Expectations and How to Manage Them 

Session Objectives: The goal of this session is to help you better understand how assumptions and expectations might impact your relationships with the young adults in our programs. And to help you position yourself for success.

Training Video

Or Read the Transcript of the Training Below

We are grateful that you want to join us in this journey to care for youth aging out of foster care. We need people like you to help fill the gap in care for these high-potential young adults. It is a blessing to serve these people who are so precious to God.

As we serve it’s important to make sure we help in a way that’s helpful. Sometimes, we don’t know the best way to help.

Don’t worry – we’re here to help you be helpful….  We want to help you to help!!!

We want to give you the best tools and guidance to help you understand the perspective of our young adults and how to best support them where they are at. 

That said, everyone is an individual and comes from different places and experiences. 

We can’t know exactly what any particular young adult is thinking or how they feel like participants in our programs. However, here are some possibilities about what the young adult could be thinking or feeling that may be influenced by their experiences in the foster care system.

Expectations about What Our Young Adults Want / Need

What our young adults might feel / believe about engaging with others as a part of our program

  • They may feel like they don’t have enough control of their own lives
  • They might be afraid you’re trying to be just another foster parent
  • Past Trauma / triggers may cause them to put up walls
  • May not want to talk about their past 
  • They may be afraid to trust 
  • They might assume you’re only in it for the money 
  • They might be slow to communicate / open up
  • They may fear disappointment & rejection
  • They may not want to be a part of your family
  • They may not want a parent figure
  • They might just want to be roommates
  • They may not want to be defined by their past

Or the opposite could be true…

  • They might hope you’ll be a parent to them
  • May define themselves by their past.
  • They may be too quick to trust 
  • They might assume you want another kid in your family
  • They might be too quick to open up or overshare
  • They may put too high expectations on the relationship
  • They may want to be a part of your family

They might come across as clingy or attention-seeking

What our young adults might feel or believe about life and relationships

  • Have no control over their feelings / blames others for emotions or situation
  • Problems are too big to solve / cope with
  • People are out to get them
  • They can’t see multiple possibilities in a disagreement
  • May view constructive criticism is a personal attack
  • May not recognize what they have control of in a relationship
  • Everyone else is “better off” 
  • Feel powerless to change / improve their circumstances
  • Be afraid to analyze themselves
  • May feel shame or inferiority because of the past

While these things might be true, these are not for you to say to them or assume upon them. No one wants to be stigmatized or labeled.

Examining Our Assumptions about Being Helpful

Now we’re going to take a moment to examine ourselves. Why do you want to help? What motivated you to sign up?

There is a risk that we can reduce others to objects to fulfill our own needs to accomplish something.

How do we avoid that? What does it look like to serve from a full heart?

It’s important to consider why you are choosing to give your time in this way.

Ask yourself:

  1. Am I serving from a full and caring heart or to fulfill a sense of obligation?
  2. Am I here to help fill someone else’s need or my own?

What you might be feeling / believing:

  • Helping others makes my life more meaningful and important
  • I’ve done well in life, I have a lot of wisdom to offer
  • I want to make a positive impact in someone else’s life

Maybe you’re lonely and would like to find a way to connect with others. Perhaps things didn’t work out with your kids and you’d like to have a do-over…

Maybe it’s none of these.

Whatever the case, there are some motivations and assumptions you brought with you going into this – or you wouldn’t be here. 

We’re glad you are, but it’s important to consider your assumptions about how you can be most helpful if you want to actually be effective.

Your beliefs & assumptions about the young adults and their circumstances impact your ability to respond well and help.

What do you think youth aging out of foster care need most?

You may want to take a moment and write it down.

Assumptions About What They NeedOur Response
More educationImparting your “wisdom”
Moral guidanceTrying to evangelize
More financial supportGive material resources

At Finally Family Homes, we don’t think these are what our young adults need most.

We believe they need healthy, stable authentic relationships!

Tips for Keeping Your Assumptions and Expectations from Getting in the Way of Building Authentic Relationships

We believe the key to preventing assumptions and expectations from getting in the way of building authentic relationships is to take a posture of listening and learning – staying focused on the best interests of the young adults. 

Remember that these young adults were also created in the image of God and have dignity and worth equal to yours. 

Their circumstances and what happened to them don’t make them less than. In fact, chances are they’ve had vastly different experiences than you have, and you could learn a lot from them. 

We need to embrace our own imperfections and brokenness (pull the plank out of our own eye) before helping others or we are likely to do more harm than good.

“First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:5, NIV

So we would challenge you to focus on your own personal growth through this experience of giving, caring, and building relationships with these young adults.

By challenging yourself to grow personally, you will stay humble and be in a better position to serve others from a place of wholeness and strength.

Session Summary

We all have had different experiences that have helped us shape our view of the world and the way we engage with others. It’s important to be aware of others’ assumptions of you and your assumptions about them as we work to build healthy relationships. And the most important key in this is to focus on our own need for growth.

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