Parenting: What would you expect?

Living with parents that don’t push you in academics? Having the privilege of hanging out with your friends whenever and wherever? To some students, it sounds like a dream. But sophomore Ben* would rather have parents who paid more attention to him.

“They only start talking when they start getting bothered, but they were never there from the start. It kind of hurts me because they don’t really care about what I’m doing. Sometimes I see getting into trouble as a way to express my anger against them; sometimes it does work, but most of the time it doesn’t and comes back to haunt me. They’ve been through a lot of hard stuff, but I don’t think they know it’s hurting me more than it’s hurting them. Later in life, I’m not going to be able to comprehend how to do anything,” Ben said.

Without parental guidance in all aspects, Ben found it difficult to be successful while avoiding peer pressure and an easier way out. At the same time, it’s impossible not to enjoy all the freedom he is allowed to invest in his social life.

“I can pretty much go out and come back whenever. That’s what I’ve been doing for a while. I get to do pretty much whatever since they’re not there; it’s only when I get in trouble that they’re there,” Ben said. “In seventh grade, I told my parents a story about one of my friends who asked me if I wanted to smoke. I said no. But I was about to say yes, because I thought if I did, then my parents would start caring. If I’m not getting in trouble, they don’t care, and they don’t ask how I’m doing. I’m doing way better than before, but it sucks that they were never there to see it.”

On the other spectrum is senior Caleb*, who have parents that trust him to get his work done. It is perhaps the most successful type of parenting, considering that Caleb is still motivated and hardworking as a senior with lenient parents.

“They know I have my stuff under control, and they know it’s my responsibility so they really don’t pressure me and try to influence the things I do. I think this helps me because it teaches me to be my own individual and grow up quicker than I really need to. It helps me understand the responsibilities that I’ll have to take later on in life and helps me practice taking care of them now in a controlled environment where even if I fail, there’s still people there who can support me. I think they’ve made me a lot better of a student because I have a really good work ethic because of them,” Caleb said.

Considering their laissez-faire approach to his academic life, Caleb’s parents still sets boundaries for him to abide by when it comes to his social life.

“As for going out, as long as I have my homework done and stuff, they’re pretty reasonable,” Caleb said. “But if I want to go out, and I don’t have all my homework done, even if it’s homework that I can do really easily, I can’t. I’d wish they would be even more lenient, because there’s a lot of things I can do pretty quickly that they’ll use as reason to not let me out. If there’s a job, I get it done.

She isn’t allowed to use social media. Her parents sometimes check her phone. And her grades are expected to be straight As. Some people may call her parents strict. But freshman Maria* calls them a blessing.

“I think it’s more like because I was brought up one way, and people hear about it, they think it’s strict. But in my opinion, I don’t really think it’s that bad. As for social media, I wasn’t fine with it at first, because it’s a way to interact with friends and such. But now that the drama gets bigger in high school, I think it’s better staying out of it. If something was wrong, they’d look through my phone, but in the end, they just want to protect me,” Maria said. “My mom volunteers her time and money for choir, so I’d say they’re fully involved in what I do. I feel really happy about it, because I know most parents don’t put in that much time, so I’m very grateful for them. They really focus their schedule around me. They’ve lived longer than me, they’ve seen more stuff, and so I feel like they’re wiser too. ant to protect me,” Maria said. “I should respect what their decisions are, and they respect mine too.

More importantly, they’re invested in ensuring a healthy upbringing. Academically, they may be strict, but they understand the benefits of maintaining a balance with Maria’s social freedom.

“I’d say that they are very flexible with what I can and cannot do because they trust my judgement. For example, if I have stuff to do, I shouldn’t go out. I’m glad they give me more responsibility, and let me make my own decisions,” said Maria. “I feel it makes me more mature so the transition of being an adult later will be easier.

Sophomore Kayla* was told by her father that if she participated in the International Baccalaureate program, he would refuse to give her transportation to school in the morning. She keeps telling her mother that she is capable without the math tutors that are being pushed on her. Since she began her education, Kayla has dealt with what she likes to call “helicopter parents.”                              

“The benefits of having such parents is the unguided motivation to prove yourself, which starts becoming motivation to just do well in general,” Kayla said. “But, they make me feel overwhelmed and devalued. My dad told me once that as a student the only thing I’m good for is studying and becoming successful in the future. My mom’s always treating me more like I’m her stock investment than a child who she wants the best for, even though I know she wants the best for me. She doesn’t have enough faith in my capabilities, and I feel like that line of thinking is making an impression on the way I think of myself, even though I know it isn’t necessarily true. The best adjective I have for it is suffocating.

When it comes to her social life, her parents are just as restricting. Kayla believes her parents inhibit her ability to form bonds with her peers. After all, grades and school come first, friendships later.

“I’m usually never out because my mom doesn’t consider being social as important as things like quantitative achievements like my grades and other testing scores. It’s really frustrating but I try to put up with it. It makes me less Involved with my friends,” Kayla said. “I don’t like that because I’m not really given a chance to really establish real and meaningful friendships, and I’m very socially awkward; I feel like that’s stemmed from being too locked up.” Ω


By Angela Cao, Longform editor

Photo by Anna Yu