Meeting parent’s expectations

Can I have a show of hands who have been scolded or nagged by your parents because you did not meet their expectations?

I am very sure you had a hard time meeting your parent’s expectations when you were growing up. Most people will agree that most parents especially Asian parents are hard to please.

When I was in Primary 5, I was put through rigours of trying to fulfil my parents wishes and I must say the experience was intense and horrible!

Today I am going to tell you 3 things that will help you understand your parent’s expectations. Do not worry, I will include tips to help you cope and survive the ordeal. I will be talking about the positive and negative impacts on children due to parent’s expectations, my personal experience and finally solutions that you may find useful.

Let’s start with the positive and negative impact in children due to their parent’s expectations!

Parents will high expectations can be beneficial to a certain extend but harmful as well if not kept in check. It is beneficial to a child’s development and social progress because when parents have high expectations, there is a sense of social responsibility and a positive pursuit for the future. Due to high parent’s expectations, parents will make relentless efforts to implement supervision which will then help the child to cultivate good studying habits and overcome obstacles. Parental expectations can also motivate children to be mentally strong and encourage them to achieve the best in academic results. However, parents expectations can also be detrimental because when parent’s expectation are unrealistic, they tend to restrict their child’s development wholistically. Children development involves physical and mental development, cognitive, intellectual, emotional and moral development. With emphasis on academics only, children tend to not have favourable growth environment and that undermines the child’s comprehensive development. It also tends to make children stress and depressed. Do you know according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) about 8 out of every 100,000 teenager commit suicide in year 2000? They were unable to manage failure due to parent’s high expectations.

This brings me to the subject of my own personal challenge.

When I was in primary 5, I did badly for my continuous assessment 1 exams. During that time, I was getting 60+ % average in all of my subjects and was disappointed with myself. After my parents saw my results, obviously being parents, they would scold me. That was when I was shocked to hear that my father wanted me to score 90+% average for all my subjects during Semestral Assessment 1. I was very stressed and started feeling depressed. Whenever I studied, I would think of my father’s demands and always ask myself, “can I really get 90%? It’s impossible.” I became very negative not looking forward to going to school. I stopped talking to my friends nor could I concentrate on my lessons during class time. I started to hand in my homework late. As my anxiety intensified, I lost all forms of concentration. I failed all my exams and I had to see my form teacher. My teacher tried to help me but I just kept quiet. Sensing something was seriously wrong, she sent me for counselling. The counsellor talked to me and after much persuasion, I finally opened up to her about my problems. My counsellor talked to my parents. My father was surprised but after the talk, he understood how I felt and started giving me emotional support instead of pressure. I did well for my Semestral Assessment 2  after that.

I learnt that keeping quiet was not the answer, you need to talk to someone and accept help.

If you are facing similar issues, let me help you by giving you some tips on how you can moderate your parent’s expectations.

Firstly, if you feel that your parents are giving you too much stress, let them know so they can understand how you feel and what would happen if they don’t listen. Give them a little pressure by pointing out that what they are doing is harmful to your mental well-being. Talk to them face to face and not on the phone so as to avoid confusion. Secondly, if you get an “A” for a particular subject and your parents still scold you and you feel disappointed, you should request for a letter to your parents by your teacher to console them. Example, saying that you worked hard and well and that “A” is good so do not worry or panic. Thirdly, if your parent’s expectations are too high, talk to your parents and set realistic goals and expectations together. However, if you do not meet them, admit your mistakes and try harder. Learning from past mistakes also helps you overcome your parent’s pressures. Finally, always persevere and never give up, your parents will eventually get the message and stop pressuring you.

Remember, nothing is as bad as it seems and you should never take the easy way out by committing suicide!

Parent’s expectations can be good to a certain extent. If parent’s expectations are unrealistic, talk to them and come to a compromise. Most importantly, believe in yourself and just do your best. The rewards will come from hard work.

The next time you feel depress because of your parent’s expectations, I hope you will remember what I have shared with you.

Remember, don’t give up, things are never as bad as it seems.  

Grade 5 Speech by

Ong Yu Xian

School: Bukit Batok Secondary School

Class : 2E2

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