I’ve always said that being a teacher helped me filter what I want and don’t want to be as a parent. Over the years, I have encountered stressed-out kids across grade levels for many reasons, and the common denominator is their parents’ high expectations.
I don’t think there’s any problem with setting high standards per se, but when kids form unhealthy mindsets and habits in pursuit of these standards, the problem comes in. Now that I have a child of my own, my husband and I really take time to talk about what we want our daughter to be so we don’t give her these unrealistic expectations:
Believe it or not, I have seen more disappointed faces over one or two mistakes in an exam than those with more mistakes. Some kids tend to hide their exam results from their parents not because of a failing mark, but because of not getting one or two items right.
To be academically excellent may require good scores, but it does not require perfection. Besides, as cliché as this may sound, a perfect score does not always guarantee learning. Parents can focus on being open to their kid, and processing what caused the mistake to avoid it next time, pretty much like in real life.
While this is heavily connected with my first point, it also goes beyond academic context. We adults have also made mistakes that allowed us to grow and be better at making decisions. To hover over our kids so they won’t make any mistakes at all won’t push them to grow and think on their own.
I had a student-achiever in class who was very kind and responsible. However, I noticed that she would likely be absent on the day of an exam. I found out that she wouldn’t sleep due to reviewing and preparing, which turned futile because she would get sick.
While it may be a student-initiated decision to not sleep, she wanted to maintain her standing in class so she could please her parents. I believe it’s not bad to check in on our kids from time to time to know how they are doing in school so we can make appropriate talks and actions.
Until now, some parents categorize courses in college into “you’ll earn money here” and “you’ll not earn money there.” As a high school student, I was one of those who was advised to take up nursing due to the demand abroad, but I was firm to say no. Many looked down on my choice without listening to my dreams of being a writer. It’s time to let go of that now because our kids deserve to be heard and excel in the field they choose to be in.
I do understand the value of having the child emulate a good characteristic from a family member or a close relative, but to make it like we parents want to turn our child into a carbon copy of that person is unfair. Our kids will never be someone else, and for them to think they must spread themselves to a certain mold will make them feel they are not valued for who they are.
To see our kids happy is our aim as parents, but to ask them to remain happy even when they are supposed to feel otherwise will lead them to hide the truth from us, which could backfire in this day and age of kids’ vulnerability. We also want our kids to run to us whenever conflicting emotions arise, so we can give them the right support and guidance that they need.
When we expect our kids to automatically hug and kiss titos and titas, ninangs and ninongs during gatherings, or to play with neighbors even when they don’t feel like it, we don’t recognize our kids’ boundaries. It’s important to let them know they are in control of their own bodies.
We parents lay down the rules and standards, but to let our kids blindly follow everything we say is a thing of the past. This only means that communication is one way, and kids are supposed to just nod and follow even when they don’t understand why they are asked to do things. We parents must take every chance we can to dutifully explain why things must be done, and it’s high time we let go of saying, “Do as I say because I’m the adult in the house.”