Prepared for life or pressed for time: how high expectations from parents lead to stress on their children


This is the dramatized to-do list of an overworked, stressed student with high expectations from parents.

We’ve all been there. It’s midnight and you’re trying to push out a bit more study time so you can get that perfect one hundred percent on that test. But who are you doing it for? Your own satisfaction or for your parents? Many students in America can, unfortunately, relate to this feeling as their parents relentlessly set higher and higher goals for their children without any input from them. 

Now of course parents want their children to consistently succeed in life, but that neverending desire for their children to be successful can often lead to an unhealthy and sometimes harmful environment for their children. But where does this feeling in the parents come from?

According to an article written by Bay Atlantic University, stress from parents can originate from a large number of factors. Some of these factors can be a concern for the welfare of their child in their adult life, social and cultural standards, and past goals that the parents couldn’t achieve when they were young. 

While having concerns for the well-being of your child is a completely valid feeling, there are times when those concerns can lead to expectations that your child simply cannot achieve. This leaves them feeling as if they are trapped and need to meet the expectations their parent set for them or face the consequences of failing to do so.

Furthermore, Bay Atlantic University stated that students who have parents with these expectations are more likely to develop conditions like mental illness, eating disorders, low academic performance, cheating in school, low self-esteem, trouble sleeping, and possible injuries if they are an athlete.

With students in our society actively encouraged to become more and more competitive for better grades or better performance in school, parents who strictly enforce that mindset on their children have been labeled as helicopter or snowplow parents.

Based on a study led by Jelena Obradovic and her team at Stanford University, they discovered that “too much direct engagement can come at a cost to kids’ abilities to control their own attention, behavior, and emotions. When parents let kids take the lead in their interactions, children practice self-regulation skills and build independence.”  

When parents allow their children to take the lead more in their own lives, it allows them to develop important skills that will deeply benefit them in the future when they inevitably become adults. 

To be quite honest, I think parents who pressure their children into getting amazing grades or amazing results in sports rather than supporting their child’s hobbies while maintaining a push for good grades, teeter on the line of child abuse in some cases. In my opinion, it’s better for the parents to encourage the growth of their child rather than force it out of them through extreme expectations to succeed. So, you tell me what you would rather have, a child who is proud of their achievements or a child that resents you for forcing them to succeed on your terms. Honestly, I hope this article would have made you, the reader, think and reflect. And if you think you’ve been a bad parent, there’s still time to turn around and hopefully create a better environment for your child so they can truly utilize their full potential.