Mind the Milestones Expectation Gap!

Ever feel that you’re not only living your family’s life but the lives of hundreds of others too? The proliferation of social media and reality TV shows means that we now don’t only mark our own children’s milestones we celebrate thousands more! The end result? The more these traditional milestone moments are shared and re-shared, the more parents are finding that the reality doesn’t always live up to expectation.

It feels like a huge taboo to say it. After all, what kind of parent admits to the fact that their child’s first word or first steps didn’t live up to the hype? But when we put our hunch to the test hundreds of parents admitted to suffering a MEG (Milestone Expectation Gap).

So whilst half of expectant parents anticipated that holding their child for the first time (a moment that is captured and re-captured on TV and social media), would be the most treasured moment in their child’s life, in reality it was only the favourite moment for a third once they actually became parents. That’s a significant number of parents experiencing a MEG.

And while many anticipated that a child’s first steps or first word would be hugely significant moments, they were actually only the favourite moments for one in 10 parents (10% and 11% respectively).

So does this mean that social media has wrecked our chances of enjoying key milestones in our childrens’ lives by creating a glossy expectation that simply can’t live up to reality?

Luckily our research indicates it hasn’t at all. What it’s done is simply re-evaluate what really matters. It’s made us prize the more private moments of deeper emotional connection that we experience with our children – the simple shared pleasures and bonding times that forge unforgettable memories.

So whilst their baby’s first word was only the favourite moment of one in 10 parents, more than double that number (22%), rated their baby’s first giggle – a moment of real emotional connection – as the moment they’ll treasure.

Perhaps most tellingly of all, when parents were asked to project forward to the milestone moment they’re most looking forward to in the rest of their child’s life, only one in six parents rated their child graduating – a moment that is often captured for posterity on social media – as the moment they’re most longing for. In contrast, double that number – well over a third – were most excited about eventually meeting their child’s child.

The message seems to be clear. Forget about fixating on ‘public’ milestones, the milestones that we as parents endlessly compare, share and fixate on. Instead find the time to cherish the little moments of pure joy that only you and your child will share – the singing in the bath, the spontaneous cuddle, the look of love, the shared chuckle – because it is these, rather than the ‘biggies’ that matter most.