I’ve noticed that what sometimes may appear to be parents putting pressure on their kids—to achieve, to excel, to get admitted to famous colleges, etc.—is actually secondhand pressure. It’s pressure parents are feeling themselves that drifts downward to their kids.
All the messaging kids hear directly and indirectly about how important it is to get good grades, score well on standardized tests, thrive in extracurricular activities, etc. exists in parent form, too.
“Getting into college is so stressful and complex. Parents better seek out—and often pay for—all the latest information and advice!”
“A student’s future is too important to leave to chance. Parents better assume the role of ‘manager’ and make all the decisions for their kids.”
“Other parents are making college prep a top priority. You’re letting your kids down if you don’t join the race, too.”
Peer pressure, status competitions, the desire to belong—adults who thought they’d left their teen troubles behind back in high school re-experience them all over again, this time as parents of high school kids.
The good news is that the rule you heard back in high school that was hard to follow still applies—just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
Deciding what’s right for your family—and letting your kids decide what’s right for them—is a healthier and more productive approach than succumbing to high school pressure all over again.