Monday, 16 May 2022

Managing parents' expectations

Trying to find a compromise between our parents’ expectations and our own life goals when we’re growing up, particularly during our teenage years, can sometimes be a struggle. Perhaps they have certain ideas of the route you should go down, whether that’s college, university or a specific job path, but your ideas don’t match up to theirs. Having a difference of opinion certainly isn’t uncommon but when you feel as though you’re underachieving or you’re a disappointment to your parents, it can have a serious impact on your mental wellbeing. In an article published by the Journal of Adolescent Health, it was found that “high parental expectations, emphasis on academic achievement, or feelings of not meeting parents’ expectations are associated with worse mental health.”

While we all want to please our parents and live up to their expectations, it shouldn’t come at a cost of negatively impacting our self-confidence or trying to be something we’re not. There are many different types of expectations you might be faced with, and not all of them will necessarily relate to your career or education. Maybe your parents expect you to dress or act a certain way, or maybe they have religious beliefs they want you to follow. Whatever the expectations are, if they are making you unhappy, anxious, stressed or even depressed, you should try to find a way of addressing the issue.

Ways to manage expectations

Firstly, it’s important to remind yourself that just because you don’t have the same views or expectations as your parents, this doesn’t make you a bad person.

  1. Make a note of all your strengths and practise positive self-talk or positive affirmations. By doing this regularly, it can increase your self-confidence and reduce any feelings of not being good enough.
  2. Try to understand your parent’s expectations from their perspective, after all they do have many years’ experience and often only want the best for you. Perhaps they are more aware of any pitfalls ahead and want to prevent you from making similar mistakes that they made when they were younger. 
  3. Write down the things that make you truly happy and the kind of expectations you have for yourself. Find some time to sit down and talk to your parents about their expectations and how they are making you feel. Try to stay calm and tell them about your own expectations. By having a calm discussion, listening and letting each other air your thoughts, you might find that you come to a better understanding.
  4. If you are still struggling to agree and it is impacting your mental health, remember that, ultimately, it’s your own happiness that is important. Once your parents see that you are happy within yourself, they might begin to ease off and respect you more as an individual.

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