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When Is Parental Pressure Too Much?

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When Is Parental Pressure Too Much?

by Michelle Trajtman, Reporter

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Doing something that you are passionate about and doing something that someone is passionate about are completely different. There are so many things that we as teenagers have to be sure to do; keep up with school work, countless hours of homework, extracurricular activities, all while making sure we still have a social life. I know right? Sounds impossible. Something that definitely does not help is the parental pressure that comes with partaking in those extracurricular activities. All that pressure can ever do more damage than good.

As a kid growing up, you’re offered everything. From basketball and cheer practice to choir and singing lessons. You’ll grow up going to practices and growing closer to teammates, mastering and developing a skill for whatever you choose. But there comes a time where you might grow tired of it, or feel like it’s just too much. Parents that have had kids in an extracurricular activity also get used to it being a part of their life. It’s not easy for them to allow their child to let it go. Is it because they have good intentions and want to see their child succeed? Or is it for the selfish reason of wanting their child to be a certain way? There’ll never be just one answer. When does encouragement cross the line into parental pressure?

According to a study done by Arizona State, children who faced relentless pressure from their parents to succeed were twice as likely to suffer from anxiety and depression than their less-pressured peers.

There’s a great problem with this; maybe the only relationship a parent has with their child is when they bond over that activity. They don’t spend enough time learning about their kid, what they like to read, what they find funny. Their only bonding time is at a track meet or a volleyball tournament.

Being someone who grew up in sports, it definitely became a part of my life and my parents’ life. Hours of practice, dedication not only on my part but on my parents. I’ve wanted to drop the sport that I played due to the stress it gave me, but I was not allowed to. To some parents, stress is just a part of life. It’s not an excuse to give up, you should push through it. When does it become too much though?

A study was done by the National Institutes of Health on San Francisco students showing just how serious this problem really is.

A staggering 30% of high schoolers in the city suffered and were at risk of suicide, and one institution in particular saw 40 teens forced to go under behavior monitoring within a year. Why is it still socially acceptable for parents to pressure their children into participating in extracurriculars?

Students in today’s society are even more stressed than before. The 2015 American College Health Assessment found that 85.6 percent of students had felt overwhelmed in the past year. When students try to talk about this to adults, they aren’t taken as seriously as they could be because they’re just kids. It’s not normal to feel so much stress at such a young age, even though some adults see it as a part of growing up.

Not only does stress make you more susceptible to illnesses like depression and anxiety, but it has a tremendous effect on sleep. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 70 percent of those who report persistent stress have trouble sleeping. The National Sleep Foundation reports teens need at least eight hours of sleep to function at peak performance, yet only 15 percent of teens get the decent amount. Poor sleep makes stress management more challenging, while also impacting concentration, learning, listening, memory and problem-solving.

Stress may also be the perpetrator of students who are prone to bullying others. The Mayo Clinic reports stress increases feelings of irritability and anger, which increases the likelihood of angry outbursts and social withdrawal. These issues need to be talked about more.

So often we blame teenagers for acting certain ways or isolating themselves in their rooms, but stress may be the sole reason for this. When parents tell their kids to stop hiding in their rooms or to go out and ‘be more social’, not only are they trying to force them to do something they have no interest in doing, but they are disrupting the only time where they can relax and not be overwhelmed.

Parental pressure can do a lot of damage to young kids and teenagers who are still being influenced by their parents opinions. It’s one thing to want to do something and dedicate your time to it, no matter how hard it will be. But when it starts to affect your mental health and how well you perform in other things, it’s time to rethink that. Parents need to realize that as much as they want their child to succeed in something, if that child is not fully committed or is choosing to focus more on something else, then accept it. At the end of the day, it is their life and their choice.

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