Thursday, February 6, 2014

Parental Pressure

When I was a child it did not seem such a big deal or a self-esteem crusher if my parents did not attend my events at school. I can count on one hand the number of times my parents came to a track meet; and when they came, I can't honestly say that it mattered. I performed no better or worse than if they were not there.

Fast forward to when I became a parent. Apparently it is expected that we attend ALL of our children's events, and participate in ALL of their activities. If you have more than one child, just imagine. Each time I go to another recital, another spring concert, another open house, all I can think of is sacrifice. While I dearly love my children I do not think it makes me a better parent if I attend every event, nor do I think it damages a child's self-esteem if I don't. Nowadays, we are also expected to sit down each night and do homework. When I was a child I do not remember my parents doing homework with me; yet I was a straight A student.

Annually, at the Little One's school each student is required to do a science project. Every year, without fail the parents are pulled in to this endeavor and there is some underlying resentment on the parents' part. I remember making fossils as a child (one of my only science projects). I remember having to buy ingredients and my mom not knowing what the items were. I remember following the directions to make the fossils and my mom being mildly amused as I actually made the fossils. Her input was to buy the products, the rest was up to me and this is exactly how I try to approach these projects, though I have to admit in prior years I have put so much pressure on myself, the project felt like mine. On top of all of this, sometimes the school did reward the parents' effort, but more often than not, it was the child who did all the work himself that got the better grade - the child whose board did not look perfect but could articulate what he did. So it seems we are driving ourselves crazy so that we as parents can have bragging rights. When you think about it, that’s not the point.

I'm saying all this to say, as parents we have to draw a line. Yes, we want our children to succeed but their success is not because we did it for them, but because they did it. It is our job to nurture, and provide guidance and then step back and let them learn. As in science projects and life - we can't do it for them.

In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness. Titus 2:7 NIV

Have you caved in to parental pressure? Do you allow your child to do all of their work or do you "help?" How do you feel when your child earns a good grade with your help?


  1. I was not into sports or anything like that as a child so I never really had much for my parents to come watch except for graduations. My older sister on the other hand was on the gymnastic, track, swimming team ... choir, etc. And my parents were so involved with the church and never made one of them. My sister still talks about this and I think she is still hurt that my parents did not at least attempt to go to one. So since I know this, I know in the future that I'll make a big effort to attend these events because although they might not seem important to me they are obviously important to the child.

    As for doing school projects for your children. I guess every parent wants their child to be the best, do the best, but I completely believe that when given any assignment the child has to do it on their own. You can help guide them in the right direction, look over their work but they have to do it themselves. My parents were SO big on this. If we excelled on a project it was because we excelled and not my parents. I think that in itself is a big self esteem booster. Besides there are too many kids with entitlement issues and I think it is because parents did not allow their children to fail or succeed on their own.

    Ooops. Such a long comment. Sorry about that.

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