Preparation Pressure Part 3: Teenage dream vs. Parent’s goals


The pressure students feel from parents and school programs can ruin their educational experience and exhaust them. In many situations, students forgo their own passions for the school their parents deem the better choice. Parents may have viable reason and motivation for feeling a need to interfere with their child’s education. Yet, in attempting to raise the best, parents take away the best parts of growing up.

How much does it take?

A teenager’s dream, goal or ambition can vary entirely on the teenager. One of the exciting parts of growing up and experiencing that autonomy for the first time is finding one’s passion and following it. Teenagers may need help finding a passion and parents will help to push them. The small amount of pushing can often become too great, depending on the parent’s involvement.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth conducted a study of students who scored within or above the 97th percentile of a test, measuring the levels of involvement of parents of high-achieving students. The results show that 92 percent of parents believe their involvement in their child’s education, “Was important for their children to excel in school.” Interestingly enough, “Only 39 percent of students agreed they feel ‘a lot of pressure from their parents to always be an exceptional student.’” Parent involvement in a child’s school can be beneficial, but needs to be measured.

These students in the survey may find benefits from their parents helping them, but too much involvement can lead to a dependency on the parent in early adulthood. A teen’s dream may be very different from a parent’s goals. This can lead to the parent directing or changing focus by belittling the teenager’s beliefs.

When enough is too much

Lynn Margolies, Ph.D., describes when the pressure brought on by parents for their child’s success can go wrong. “When parents are overly invested in performance, kids are less likely to develop their own, more sustainable motivation,” Margolies explains. She highlights the importance of parents encouraging, “Teens to make their own choices while helping them think through consequences of different decisions.” It is important to not make light of a teenager’s dream or shoot it down, rather help the teen think it through.

In part two of the series, the idea of giving teen’s space and time to grow into young adults was brought up. Similar to the message on which Margolies elaborates, becoming too involved in a child’s academic choices throughout middle school to college, can ruin the construction of their autonomy and the relationship between parent and child.

White River Academy is not a second chance continuation school, rather a residential boarding school offering a new start. WRA uses mindful therapy modalities; creative character shaping and a chance at autonomous growth through service based community projects. Through the use of cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectal behavioral therapy and other methods, the boys will find their place in the world with the treatment. For more information or to register, feel free to call 866-520-0905.

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