All parental pressure questions, answered
Too many expectations to meet? Too many people around you making you feel the need to keep up? Too many items on your to-do list for the day? Pressure is everywhere but dealing with it is part and parcel of life – be it work pressure, peer pressure or in the case of young adults, parental pressure. But pushing your way past this is important knowledge to have for both adults and children. Dr Saloni Sawnani, a renowned psychologist based in Mumbai, answers commonly asked questions about handling parental pressure and how a healthy relationship can be maintained between teenagers and their parents.
What is parental pressure? What are the ways in which it can negatively affect a teen? Parents have a lot of expectations from their children – a tendency for them to make sure their children are perfect and good at everything without realizing the kind of negative ways it can affect them. Naturally, children are bound to want to make their parents feel proud and meet these expectations. They want to do everything that has been told to them which is not possible. It sometimes leads to lack of self-confidence, feeling depressed and rebellious attitudes, agitation, aggressive behaviour towards family and peers, lifestyle and mood disturbances, communication gaps and trust issues between parents and children.
Why are parents so apprehensive about letting their children choose their path?
Parents feel like they have proprietary rights over their children. ‘I gave birth to you, so I decide for you’ - they like to feel that because of their years of experience, their knowledge about the world. They feel they know their child’s personality and capabilities best since they have seen their baby bloom into a youthful teenager. Parents want to be the best and only judge of their children’s lives so they make sure their children don’t repeat any mistakes they might have made in their youth.
How should parents cope with choices made against their wishes?
Parents should respect their children, their opinions, and build a supportive environment for them. They are protective; they just want their child to succeed but they must allow their children to learn from their mistakes - as the best learning is from failure. Personality growth comes from experiences so don’t be afraid to let your children try new things. One thing to avoid would be saying ‘I told you so’ to your kids. Parents love doing that, but it’s not healthy for a child at all.
At what age do parents need to let go and let children decide for themselves?
Personality growth comes from experiences so don’t be afraid to let your children try new things. One thing be to avoid would saying ‘I told you so’ to your kids.
As young as two years. Children should be given a chance to make small independent choices for themselves. At age two, it can be between the pink or the blue dress, a toy car or a Barbie doll. It can start with toys at age two, clothes at age five, school subjects at age 10, universities at age 16 and eventually marriage as they get older. Let the children take the onus of making decisions. Then, if they don’t like the pink dress after choosing it first, they will learn something about themselves. This will instill confidence in them and they will feel like their choice matters. To listen is to be heard. So if a child feels heard, he will listen or else he won’t.
What are the ways for a teen to approach a subject that parents are apprehensive about and earn their faith?
Be courageous: Have it in you to go up to them and say, ‘ I know you won’t approve but I was hoping I could share this with you’. Take permission to vocalize what they are not comfortable about. Don’t react: Parents aren’t going to take the news of their teenage children misbehaving well, so learn to not react to any of the ‘freaking out’, anger and astonishment. They come from a place of concern, anger and helplessness so give them room to process your opinion. Be vulnerable: Tell them you need their help and that you want to solve this problem which is why you approached them in the first place.
How can children handle the pressure and be able to defeat it?
This is a joint effort. It should be done by both teenagers and parents together. Sensitization and communication between both should always be present. Children have to feel confident that even if they are reprimanded, they have been understood. They find comfort in knowing that their parents understand their perspective which will help the child understand his parents’. There should be mutual respect among the two - respect is one thing which should never be invalidated - all opinions must be respected.
How should a teen deal with their choices being disregarded?
Children have to feel confident that even if they are reprimanded, they have been understood.
Teenagers may not be adults but their need to be heard still exists. Respect is a twoway street and it is extremely important during adolescence. As much as they respect their parents’ opinions and wishes, they are seeking the same from them. Try to communicate better: Chances are that you were not heard, probably even misunderstood, because of a communication gap between both parties. Choose your words more carefully and be more sensitive in your approach. Don’t lose hope: If you are not heard the first time, try another time. The outcome could be better than before. Ask why: If your choice is not considered, then ask why. Learn the reason they are not supporting your decisions, it will help in altering your current decision or making a better one. What are the steps for both parents and teenagers to take to have a healthy relationship with each other? Mutual respect for opinions: As mentioned before, respect is a two-way street. It is a healthy way to understand each other and live together peacefully. Agreeing to disagree: Learn to understand that there will always be times where you will agree to disagree. It is good to have differentiating opinions for the best outcomes. Openness of the mind: A child should keep their mind open beyond what is expressed and why. Intent: It is important to focus on the intent than the method in which it is expressed. There is always a contrast between the two. Example: Your mother may scream at you to switch the television off but she is telling you because she worries about your well-being and only wants you to do well in your field. Better expression: It is natural to be concerned but there are positive ways to express it rather than engaging in a screaming match with each other. Small encouraging words and being empathetic help build a strong bond.
It is natural to be concerned but there are positive ways to express it rather than engaging in a screaming match with each other. Small encouraging words and being empathetic help build a strong bond.