A teenage girl lying on her bed supporting her head with one hand and holding her book with the other while she is reading.

If you’re struggling to find a balance between the expectations of a parent or carer and what you want to do, you’re not alone.


However, you can still find ways of respecting them while pursuing your own path. Here are a few tips:


Know that you are enough

No matter what anyone tells you or expects of you, you are great as you are. The choices you make about your education or career are important, but they aren’t the only thing that makes you who you are. Your personality, interests and strengths can also shape you. 


Try to understand your parents’ or carers’ point of view

Even though they put pressure on you, a parent or carer might be behaving this way because they love you. Generally, parents and carers want the best for their children, and may think encouraging you to pursue a certain career is genuinely helping you. 

Try to see it from their point of view before raising it with them. 


Set aside time to talk to your parents/caregiver 

Talking to a parent or carer about what you really want can be a great way to resolve any conflict and reduce the pressure you feel. 

Schedule a time to sit down with your parent or carer – ideally at a time when everyone is relatively relaxed and has free time. When you start, consider the following tips:

  • Thank them for caring about your future but explain that you’re worried that you can’t meet their expectations.

  • Tell them a little bit about what you’d like to do in the future. If you don’t know what you want to do yet, that’s okay! The act of simply confiding in them will help your relationship. On their side, they will probably feel relieved that you are thinking about your future. 

  • Listen to their thoughts, but if you feel they aren’t seeing your perspective, agree to disagree. 


Use “I” statements, which show that you’re taking responsibility for your emotions. Say something like: “I understand that you’d like me to be a teacher, but I feel it doesn’t match my strengths or interests.” 

Don’t use “you” statements, like “you always make me feel upset”, as they can make others feel blamed. 


Be kind to yourself

Take care of yourself by eating healthily, getting exercise, hanging out with good friends and doing things you enjoy too. Also, make sure your own expectations of yourself are realistic. Setting goals can be helpful, but only when they’re achievable and when they make you feel good about yourself.


What to do if expectations are upsetting you

If the expectations of a parent or carer feel too intense, reach out to someone who can help. A good friend or another trusted adult (e.g. a teacher or a guidance counsellor) may be able to offer you some advice on how to cope with these expectations, or how to change the behaviour of a parent or carer. 


Take things one small step at a time

When setting a goal, think of what it would look like if that goal was on a ladder. The bigger the goal, the bigger the ladder and so the more steps you will need to take. Always remember, smaller steps will get you to your goal quicker than taking too big a step. And its okay to go back steps when you need to. 


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