How to deal with pressure from parents

Most parents just want what is best for their children, but when their ideas of what is best for you don't quite match your own, frustration and anger can run riot.

Most parents just want what is best for their children, but when their ideas of what is best for you don't quite match your own, frustration and anger can run riot. To try to help you see things their way, parents may resort to pressuring you without even realising it. If you feel that one, or both, of your parents is pressuring you to act or think a certain way, use this handy how-to guide to dealing with parent pressure.

Remain Calm
Even if it is the tenth time this hour that your mother has told you to stop slouching/watch your mouth/put away your laundry, remain calm. Getting into a screaming match may help you blow of some steam, but if you want your parents to listen to what you have to say, make sure that you say it in a reasonable tone. Remaining calm and speaking seriously will convey to your parents that you:

  • Have given your topic serious thought
  • Can speak about your topic in a reasonable manner
  • Are mature enough to have a discussion, not an argument
  • Will be willing to listen to their opinions during this discussion


Know Your Argument
Of course by the time your parents realise that you are willing to have a discussion with them, you really must be ready to have this discussion. Make sure that you know your argument and can present it in a convincing manner. It doesn't matter if you are trying to make them understand your desire to dye your hair, defer university or sell your younger brother; the aspects of a convincing argument remain the same:

  • Know your own mind and be clear about your main points - remind them that you only want to experiment with dying your hair blonde, not pink or purple, and that you are perfectly willing to use only semi-permanent dye
  • Research evidence or, even better, statistics - if you can tell your parents that you understand their desire for you to go to university, but you would prefer to be one of the 88% (or whatever you discover it really is) that defer to take a gap year, they will be more likely to listen to you as you explain why
  • Present an alternative plan - explain your reasons for wanting to sell your younger brother, but if your parents don't seem convinced offer an alternative such as sending him to boarding school to show that you understand their hesitations


Enlist the Aid of an Expert
It's highly unlikely that you will be able to bring in Sir Alex Ferguson to explain to your father why he must give up his dreams of you one day playing for Manchester United, but it is feasible that you can find another kind of expert - an expert on your father. Think of family and friends who are used to the way your parents' minds work and may have seen them put pressure on you. Options include:

  • Your aunts and uncles (your parents' brothers and sisters).
  • Your grandparents (your parents' own mother and father).
  • Family friends (look for someone who has known your parents for decades).
  • Your older siblings (they've probably endured similar pressure and have survived).
  • A favourite teacher or coach (if they know you have a talent, they will help you fight for it and if they know that you don't have a talent, they may be able to explain this to your parents).
  • School counsellor (they are wicked at getting parents to see the big picture).


Be Willing to Compromise
Life's not fair; no doubt you know that already, so expecting to get your way all of the time is unrealistic. When you parents pressure you, they do so because they are passionate about the subject and it is unlikely that they will back off completely. Show your parents that you understand at least some of their passion by being willing to compromise. Try to find a middle ground - you'll study French for an hour every night, but not with the silly tutor they found, you'll consider babysitting your cousins regularly if they'll consider subsidising your mobile phone bills - and hopefully you'll find something you can agree upon.

Parent pressure can make your home life a living hell, but following these handy hints should help lessen the pressure and let you all meet in the middle. If, however, your parents are pressuring you to the point that you feel endangered either physically or mentally, contact a trusted adult such as a family friend, teacher, doctor or policeman immediately. Otherwise, hold tight because this too shall pass!

Teen Issues | By: Beth Morrisey MLIS

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