It seems like from the moment we are born, our lives are dictated by our parents—what to wear, what to do, even what to believe in. Our parents have high expectations of us. When you’re a parent, why wouldn’t you want your child to succeed? Any sensible parent wants their child to be smart and successful, so naturally, expectations are high. For a high school student, these expectations can be extremely stressful.
These are just some things constantly uttered by parents expressing their high expectations. While these expectations may seem like what’s best for the child, they can actually be detrimental to a child’s health and induce significant amounts of stress. Sarah* is currently taking a number of AP and honors classes, and has been told to become a cardiologist by her mother and father. She has been trying to maintain her high school grades, while participating in extracurricular activities. Juggling classes with sports and clubs proves difficult for Sarah.
“I do feel stressed, especially trying to maintain my grades—many of which are not easy A’s,” she says. Sarah’s parents reprimand her for not performing her best. And while she believes they want the best for her, she also believes some of their expectations may be unreasonable.
Sarah says. Unfortunately, Sarah’s situation is quite common among high school students, many of whom face constant pressure from their parents to succeed academically. For some students, these high expectations results in extreme stress and anxiety, which, in turn, affects their performance.
Derek* is also pressured, not only by the typical demands of school, but also by his parents.
“My parents definitely have very high expectations from me,” Derek says. “They aren’t really vocal about it, but [I know they expect me] to succeed in all my classes.” Many of the high expectations exerted on Derek have affected his personality.
“I feel like I pressure myself a lot of the time. Having high ambitions I want to go to law school. And I think if I don’t take these classes [honors and AP], if I don’t succeed, disappointing my parents will be worse than disappointing myself because they believe in me so much,” he says.
Pressure, in doses, can be healthy, even essential to one’s success. Students should recognize their parents’ support, and parents should not put too much pressure on their child. They should expect their child to do well and help them when they don’t do their best, as well as reward them for their hard work.
– Karam Gafsi