Parental pressure is as real today as it has always been. Students these days suffer a lot of stress with competition rising and performance being measured at every step. And on top of that, when your own parents put pressure on you, that stress affects you a lot. 

Parental Pressure is real

While reminiscing about their childhood days, our parents always manage to regale us with stories of how they spent their days frolicking in fields and groves, playing truant from school, and having the time of their lives. We often land up asking them with curiosity, “Didn’t your parents ever say anything about all this and ask you to study?” And that statement invites strange looks from them as if we’d just asked them if they could fly or had scales under their feet. The very idea of their parents asking them to sit and study is as alien a concept to them as our parents asking us to go and play a game of football with our friends.

Frankly, no matter how much we may dislike it, why would they allow you too much leisure time? Given the drastic changes in the economy, the meteoric rise of the service sector, a decrease in the availability of jobs, it is hardly the time to be spending your childhood days playing with abandon.

These, however, have not been the sole factors behind the conditions faced by students everywhere. Admitted, kids are indeed growing up smarter, learning new things and being exposed to a much more knowledge-intensive world. Words that one could never hear of outside one’s school grammar classes are thrown left and right on the television screen. You no longer need an Oxford Pocket Dictionary to solve your vocabulary woes – a smartphone more than makes up for it. Materials for your latest assignment, even for the exam coming up at the end of the week, are easily found online. Anything you need is at your fingertips today, of course, if you are privileged enough to have access to them. These factors help students do extremely well in their school and board exams, leading to massive spurts in marks. But the lack of accessibility will hardly be considered when you fail to meet the cut-off of percentage in a college.

A student’s life becomes more complex, thanks to the policies aimed at making things so-called ‘easier’. These great rules (pun intended) include the compulsory passing of students till the 8th standard, change in exam patterns and a great deal of love for objective-type questions, chief ministers of certain states asking evaluators of the state board exams to give ‘good marks’ to certain students.

Given this background, I guess parents do have a right to cry foul when accused of putting pressure on their wards to study more and perform better in the entrance exams. Irrespective of how good a student you are, you will never be considered for any college admission or job interview if your CPI or CGPA or whatever-other-abbreviated-nonsense does not meet the set criteria.

It is crucial to ease off the pedal enough for the children to be able to coast through their childhood. Why burn their engines to get to the finish line, only to have them look back later and regret having missed the scenery along the way? Reducing the pressure is not going to have them lazing around throughout school lives. They are ambitious too. Nobody wants to live a miserable life, and children manage to understand this more than most. There is a hell of a lot of difference between owning a PS4 (or 5 or whatever model is the rage nowadays) and being reduced to finding satisfaction in a 4.5” smartphone.

The ‘Great Expectations’

The issue then, I guess, are the ‘great expectations’ that parents have from their children. Sure, no parent would want their children to have bleak futures, but they also need to wake up to their child’s actual potential, rather than their perceived potential. Every parent might want to think that their child is an AB deVillier’s clone. Merely being reduced to a maggu who eats calculus textbooks for breakfast is not going to help the children much. Extra- and co-curricular activities count as well. Thus, children also need to be packed off to swimming classes, karate classes, drawing classes, foreign language classes, and so on.

Parents invariably, willfully or otherwise, tend to project their successes and failures, likes and dislikes, wishes and desires, onto their children. Thus, a professor of chemistry would want his son to excel in that subject and a mother who dreamed of being able to take up dance lessons enrolls her daughter for the same. Parents force their child to take up engineering classes because their neighbor won’t stop bragging about how good the facilities are at the prestigious engineering college their daughter has gotten admitted into. In the midst of all this, the voice, likes and interests of their child get strangled.

Maybe it’s time parents started listening to their children’s dreams. There is no point in forcing a chicken to swim if it is better at just crossing the street (sorry, couldn’t resist that one).

Societal Norms

However, it is not just the parents who need to stand up and take the flak. Educational institutions tend to focus more on competition by fueling the fires among students with unnecessary ranking systems. True, a child needs to survive in a highly competitive world, but you cannot let it be the sole reason for their existence. We, collectively as a society, need to improve our views on what subjects and professions are deemed worthy and start giving them their due respect.

How can anyone possibly conclude that streams like arts and the social sciences are for those who scored poor marks in their boards? And how can anyone frown upon children who don’t want to be engineers or doctors? We need to understand that this fast-paced world has a lot of opportunities in a diverse number of fields, each requiring its specific set of skills. Many of these streams may not have even been envisioned till a few years back. Who would have known that a company that allows people to book cabs from the comfort of their rooms could become such a big thing? Truly, nothing is too small to be done.

And finally, a word of advice (ahem!) to my fellow students – patience is the key! Our parents have seen a lot more of the world and its intricacies than we can comprehend at present. Rebelling without a cause never got anyone anywhere, but the rest of us can shout out Bon Jovi’s “It’s my life”.

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