Unrealistic parental expectations – Do we expect too much from Kids ?

Being a parent is the toughest job in the entire world. Not only are you constantly worried about the well-being of your child, you are also constantly nagged by the desire to provide nothing but the best to them. In the process every parent builds a castle or two in the air about a glorious future for their child. However, these dreams are often not grounded on a practical and realistic assessment of the child’s capabilities and strengths.

Unreasonable parental expectations
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“Asmit is 16 years old boy and a class XII student in a reputed Indian school in Dubai. After his class X boards, he wanted to continue his senior secondary education in commerce but bowing down to parental pressure he opted for the science stream. 8 months into class XI Asmit had failed his internal exams, had terrible mood swings and was finding it difficult to concentrate in his class. He ran away from home twice, often comes home late in the night after school hours and complains of an inability to comprehend the school course material. Today, a few months short of his XII board exams, the entire family is at crossroads and in a state of chaos.”

Asmit is a victim of unreasonable educational standards set by his parents. Additionally it also affected his parents, they are unable to reconcile with Asmit’s current academic performance and are disoriented with fear about his future. Educational boards like CSBE and CISCE offer a variety of subject combinations to children to choose from based on the practical understanding that every child is not meant to ace in every subject. A child weak in Mathematics or English may have other abilities worth honing. A study on the relationship between parental aspirations and academic achievement, published in the Journal of Personality and social Psychology, indicates that when aspirations exceed realistic expectations, children’s achievement decreased proportionately.

But how can a parent not aspire for their dear child? The solution is not to stop dreaming, rather create realistic standards for your child.

  1. Do not turn a blind eye to your child’s weaknesses. Recognize your child’s strengths, encourage his abilities, provide him with opportunities to refine his skills. At the same time, support your child’s weaknesses; embark on a life long journey of accepting flaws. This will make you set realistic expectations from your child.
  2. Do not feel the need to hide your child’s flaws in fear of discouraging them. Acceptance is the first step towards improvement. There is no flaw crippling enough to stop one from achieving their dreams. Initiate a conversation with your child, look for possible solutions, and set small achievable targets to overcome their drawbacks.
  3. Never judge your child’s potential solely based on academic performance. Gone are the days when a 100 in Math or science was the only recognition of a genius. Today every field of Art, literature, technology is churning out experts. Career opportunities are unlimited in today’s world ranging from bizarre ones like Video game tester (Yes! You get paid to test video games all day long and give your feedback) to the safer ones like a banker.
  4. As a parent you can dream for your child but you cannot force your dreams upon them. Acknowledge them as individuals in their own might, who may or may not share your vision and dreams. Do not look down upon them for choosing a different path than what you envisioned. Rather be a companion in their journey and hold them close as they stumble while carving out a path for themselves.

Unreasonable expectation can create damaging rifts between parents and children. Parents wallow in self pity and desperation while children develop a sense of failure and inferiority. On the other hand, reasonable expectations open channels of communication, support and strengthen the relationship between parents and children.

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