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Dealing with family pressure to perform
Dealing with family pressure to perform
It's already hard enough without having your family looking over your shoulder. Here's how to deal with it.
Alexander Pan avatar
Written by Alexander Pan
Updated over a week ago

It goes without saying that parents will always want the best for their children. But as well intentioned as that is, it can sometimes cause extra unwanted pressure. Between working, studying, and figuring out life on your own, having to also juggle your parents' expectations of you - especially if what they want for you is in direct conflict with what you want - can be overwhelming.

So if you're feeling pressure from your family to perform and live up to whatever expectations they have for you, here are some tips to deal with it in a constructive and healthy way.

Understand where everyone is coming from

You and your parents/family may have different - and potentially conflicting - ideas and expectations regarding your future. What's important here is how you can resolve this in a constructive and healthy way, as well as understand where your parents/family are coming from. They might just want you to succeed or to be happy, it could be that their idea of happiness and/or success is different to yours, or perhaps their concern is related to their own expectations of themselves being projected onto you. That is, your parents or family likely mean well, but you just might not agree with their viewpoint.

Try to talk with your family about the pressure you are under

Try to talk to your parents/family about this pressure and what you want for yourself. Start this conversation with something direct yet respectful, like "I get why you want me to be a [doctor/lawyer/engineer/insert random career] but I don't think this is what I want to do or what I'm good at." Also try and use 'I' statements so you are giving your feedback about what you think and feel.

Other tips for a constructive conversation include:

  • Pick a time when your parents/family are free and relaxed. Chatting to them when they're stressed or short on time is a recipe for arguments.

  • Explain the pressure you are feeling to meet their expectations, and why you are troubled by those expectations.

  • Tell them what you'd like to do instead and what that involves - even if you're not entirely sure. Not everyone knows what they want to do but showing that you're thinking about the future will help reassure them that you're actively figuring things out.

  • Make sure to also listen to their point of view.

  • If the conversation is going nowhere, agree to disagree and take a break. Once things have cooled off a bit, return to this conversation when everyone is ready. Otherwise, seek support from another person outside your family.

Get extra support

In some families, starting these conversations can be very difficult. Or you might have tried to raise the conversation and it has not gone well. If you are not able or not comfortable to have a discussion with your family, reach out for support by contacting Sonder. You can chat through your concerns and situation privately with one of our Sonder team members at any time you like. Our team is available 24/7 to talk to you.

Are you putting too much pressure on yourself?

While it's tough to have other people pressuring you, it's equally important to make sure you are not putting too much pressure on yourself. It's good to have goals, to keep you motivated at every step. Just make sure the goals are realistic and achievable. Also remember to celebrate when goals are achieved, but also be kind to yourself if you experience any set backs.

Always remember that you're good enough

Many teenagers and young adults aren't sure what career path to take, or how to go about it. Other people are certain and they know how to get there. Others have a career expectation put on them by well-intentioned loved ones. Regardless, your career does not define your value as a person. You are more than your career, you have your own values, morals and beliefs and you're perfectly fine just as you are.

Chat to someone else if you need help

If the pressure is getting to be too much, ask for help from someone else, whether it's a close friend, mentor, teacher, therapist or someone from Sonder. Just know that sometimes you don't need to shoulder everything on your own and it's perfectly okay to get support from someone else.

Related reading:

If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app to connect to our team of qualified, caring health professionals.

Information sourced from: Reach Out #1 and Reach Out #2.

Image credit: Turning Red

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.

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