Parenting: What would you expect?
Living with parents that donâ€™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.
â€śThey only start talking when they start getting bothered, but they were never there from the start. It kind of hurts me because they donâ€™t really care about what Iâ€™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 doesnâ€™t and comes back to haunt me. Theyâ€™ve been through a lot of hard stuff, but I donâ€™t think they know itâ€™s hurting me more than itâ€™s hurting them. Later in life, Iâ€™m not going to be able to comprehend how to do anything,â€ť 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, itâ€™s impossible not to enjoy all the freedom he is allowed to invest in his social life.
â€śI can pretty much go out and come back whenever. Thatâ€™s what Iâ€™ve been doing for a while. I get to do pretty much whatever since theyâ€™re not there; itâ€™s only when I get in trouble that theyâ€™re there,â€ť Ben said. â€śIn 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 Iâ€™m not getting in trouble, they donâ€™t care, and they donâ€™t ask how Iâ€™m doing. Iâ€™m doing way better than before, but it sucks that they were never there to see it.â€ť
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.
â€śThey know I have my stuff under control, and they know itâ€™s my responsibility so they really donâ€™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 Iâ€™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, thereâ€™s still people there who can support me. I think theyâ€™ve made me a lot better of a student because I have a really good work ethic because of them,â€ť Caleb said.
Considering their laissez-faire approach to his academic life, Calebâ€™s parents still sets boundaries for him to abide by when it comes to his social life.
â€śAs for going out, as long as I have my homework done and stuff, theyâ€™re pretty reasonable,â€ť Caleb said. â€śBut if I want to go out, and I donâ€™t have all my homework done, even if itâ€™s homework that I can do really easily, I canâ€™t. Iâ€™d wish they would be even more lenient, because thereâ€™s a lot of things I can do pretty quickly that theyâ€™ll use as reason to not let me out. If thereâ€™s a job, I get it done.â€ť
She isnâ€™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.
â€śI think itâ€™s more like because I was brought up one way, and people hear about it, they think itâ€™s strict. But in my opinion, I donâ€™t really think itâ€™s that bad. As for social media, I wasnâ€™t fine with it at first, because itâ€™s a way to interact with friends and such. But now that the drama gets bigger in high school, I think itâ€™s better staying out of it. If something was wrong, theyâ€™d look through my phone, but in the end, they just want to protect me,â€ť Maria said. â€śMy mom volunteers her time and money for choir, so Iâ€™d say theyâ€™re fully involved in what I do. I feel really happy about it, because I know most parents donâ€™t put in that much time, so Iâ€™m very grateful for them. They really focus their schedule around me. Theyâ€™ve lived longer than me, theyâ€™ve seen more stuff, and so I feel like theyâ€™re wiser too. ant to protect me,â€ť Maria said. â€śI should respect what their decisions are, and they respect mine too.â€ť
More importantly, theyâ€™re invested in ensuring a healthy upbringing. Academically, they may be strict, but they understand the benefits of maintaining a balance with Mariaâ€™s social freedom.
â€śIâ€™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 shouldnâ€™t go out. Iâ€™m glad they give me more responsibility, and let me make my own decisions,â€ť said Maria. â€śI feel it makes me more mature so the transition of being an adult later will be easier.â€ť
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 â€śhelicopter parents.â€ť Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
â€śThe benefits of having such parents is the unguided motivation to prove yourself, which starts becoming motivation to just do well in general,â€ť Kayla said. â€śBut, they make me feel overwhelmed and devalued. My dad told me once that as a student the only thing Iâ€™m good for is studying and becoming successful in the future. My momâ€™s always treating me more like Iâ€™m her stock investment than a child who she wants the best for, even though I know she wants the best for me. She doesnâ€™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 isnâ€™t necessarily true. The best adjective I have for it is suffocating.â€ť
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.
â€śIâ€™m usually never out because my mom doesnâ€™t consider being social as important as things like quantitative achievements like my grades and other testing scores. Itâ€™s really frustrating but I try to put up with it. It makes me less Involved with my friends,â€ť Kayla said. â€śI donâ€™t like that because Iâ€™m not really given a chance to really establish real and meaningful friendships, and Iâ€™m very socially awkward; I feel like thatâ€™s stemmed from being too locked up.â€ť Î©
*NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED TO PROTECT THE PRIVACY OF INDIVIDUALS
By Angela Cao, Longform editor
Photo by Anna Yu