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Pass? or Prepared? Rudiger Appel's Figurine and Link to his site.

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Latest update: May 20, 2000
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Buscaglia on Expectations

Buscaglia warns us against holding others to our expectations: "People are not here to meet your expectations." (Living, Loving and Learning, p. 109) People are each unique; each worth knowing in their own right. To have expectations is to shape the world by your own perspective, to try to fit others into where you have categorized them as belonging. That is structurally violent, for it causes you to set up categories into which you try to make people fit, and it makes it harder for you to categoize and interpret their communication because your own categorization preoccupies you and places structural limits on the categories you consider.

Based on your readings in Living, Loving, and Learning, answer the following questions:

  1. Does Buscaglia mean that we shouldn't have high expectations for our children?

    One Plausible Answer

    No. Absolutely not. But Buscaglia wouldn't call those "expectations." He would call them "dreams" and love. We should want our children to be all that they can and want to be. But Buscaglia would caution us that to "expect" your child to be a "doctor," or a "lawyer," or an artist, is to impose your dreams on a child for whom that dream may be a nightmare.

    My mother wanted me to be a doctor. From the age of two that was impressed on me. She bought me little medical set toys, which I promptly smashed. Then, as now, I wanted nothing to do with medicine. That is the kind of expectation Buscaglia is talking about. Or the kind that dictates that the child always be "best" at everything he undertakes.

  2. What does Buscaglia mean when he says that each of us is unique?

    One Plausible Answer

    Buscaglia is referring to the fact that we each must choose a path for living that suits us uniquely. If I am awkward, uncoordinated, playing baseball as a career would be a poor choice, even if my father had always wanted to be a major league player himself, and desperately wanted me to go on to do what he could not. I cannot climb that path for him. I must climb my own.

    If, for whatever reason, I choose not to have children, even though my mother wanted me to have six, I must choose the path that works for me, despite my mother's dreams. If I choose to have a child out of wedlock, despite my mother's dream of marriage for me, I must choose the path that works for me. I am unique.

  3. What is structurally violent about "expectations" in Buscaglia's sense?

    One Plausible Answer

    By imposing our dreams on another, by "expecting" them to do what we believe that we would have been happier doing, we force them into a categorization that may not fit them. We stifle their uniqueness, without regard for who they are. That means we treat them as fungible objects instead of unique individuals with dreams of their own. That is structurally violent because it is violence done to them because of their relationship to us, not because of anything they have done or not done. My mother would have expected any child of hers to be a medical doctor, and probably would have so coerced each of them until at least one satisfied her need to "have a doctor in the family." Notice that I gave her a Ph.D. and a J.D. instead. It never really satisfied her though. She wanted an M.D., and nothing else would do.


    Figurine by Rudiger Appel. Notice that you can see three effects in the animation. Either the Variation on the Kandinsky figurine appears to turn in a clockwise direction, or in a counterclockwise direction, or it appears to open and close. Can you see all three effects? Try. Fascinated? Link to Appel's site and then link to the background he provides. Scroll down until you find a link to background.


    Chantessy's Page Chantessy's Mardi Gras Alphabet was originally used on this page. We changed it because it was too distracting as eye candy. Chantessy was the first contributor to our Kids' Site when we began Dear Habermas. Visit her page. Check out the sliders puzzles on her fun page. Or check out her candy box and send a friend a posty. Non-violent ways to respond to structural violence in the academy! It's great fun.