, Research Paper
Parental Pressure within High School Students
I.I became interested in this topic because my entire academic life has
been filled with pressure from my parents. This pressure was mainly in school
and grades, and in high school, the amount of pressure increased dramatically.
This is because my parents now realized that everything in high school counts
towards college. When I first came to high school, my grades were not as good
as they were in middle school. I needed a little time to adapt to high school
before I could improve my grades. During this time, my parents became upset
because I brought home a report card that was not as good as they were expecting.
Then I really noticed the pressure getting higher and higher. I did not only
notice this with me, but I noticed this with many of my friends. I heard
phrases like ?My parents are going to kill me? and ?I’m going to be grounded for
10 years? many times so when the opportunity to do research on this came up, I
chose this as my subject.
II. How does parental pressure influence students in high school? If there
is an influence, is it positive or negative? I would like to do research on
this because it raised my curiosity. For me personally, I do better in school
if I am calm and have little pressure, but there might be students out there at
Ramapo High School that think differently. These are some of the things that I
will try to find out through this I-Search.
III.At the beginning of my search, I had a really hard time finding
secondary sources. First, I went to the school library. Since the school
library has this computer program called BELS, there was no need to go to the
other libraries. BELS is a program that lists all the books in Franklin Lakes,
Wyckoff, and Oakland. It is a network that unites the two public libraries and
the one in Indian Hills. I then went to an article search. I had no luck here
either. When I went home, I went on America Online to try to find some articles
or any secondary sources. I went to the article search and still found nothing.
After a few days, I asked the school librarian to help me find some books. She
guided me to a section that had books about social problems. Luckily, I found
two books on families and parents. These were two good books, but I still
needed at least one more to fulfill my requirement. I went to the Special
Services department and talked to a person there. She gladly offered help. She
said that she would look through her stuff and try to find what she could on
this subject. Then she told me to come back after school to pick up whatever
she had. I returned after the school day ended and went back to the Special
Services department. She was waiting there with two books and an article.
Although I found that one of the books that I was given was not a real good help,
the others were. My secondary sources were finished and now I had to move on to
my primary sources. These were much easier because I did not need to search for
anything. I interviewed two classmates during some free time I had in class,
and put out a survey. These also helped a lot in giving me information I could
use. Since I had all of my sources, I then proceeded with the notecards.
IV.Do parents of high school students put too much pressure on their
children? The students would probably say yes, and the parents would probably
say no. Parents would probably say that they just want the best for their
children. Sometimes, though, this ?good cause? leads into disaster when the
parents take it too far. This could be by the fault of the parent or the child.
This means that either the child provokes the parent by doing badly in school,
or the parents do not become satisfied with the child’s achievement and takes
over their lives.
When the parents concentrate on grades alone, they become like a
dictator and not a friend. They do not care about anything else such as social
problems and sports (Webb pg.24). This causes the child to overachieve. This
means that the child thinks that the only way he/she can get the affection and
respect of his/her parents is to bring home good grades. At this point,
anything that does not deal with grades or academics is worthless to the child,
and furthermore the child does not care (Webb pg.25). When this happens, the
child focuses so much on grades, he/she misses out on being a normal teenager.
This includes going out with friends, dances, hobbies, and sports. Also, the
child feels lonely and ends up having to practice growing up and being an adult
by herself because his/her parents do not care (Webb pg.26). Sometimes parents
get so caught up with their child’s grades that they always ?check over? their
homework when all they are doing is doing it for them. The teachers notice this
and punish the student and not the parent (Gaillard). Klagsbrun(1976) states, ?
Suicidal students are seldom satisfied with their grades, no matter how high
Parents can also put pressure on their child even when praising their
good grades and efforts. For example, when a child does extremely well in one
subject, the parents become happy and praise the child. At the same time, the
child is doing poorly in another subject but is just afraid to tell his/her
parents because it might make them upset. This pressures the child and he/she
does not know what to do (Rubin pg.143).
Pressure can also be deadly. Here are two cases. First, a fifteen year
old honors student (and an Eagle Scout) stood up in the middle of his English
class and shot himself. He did this because he was given a notice, that was to
be signed by his parents, saying that he was doing badly in class (Guetzloe
pg.65). The second case is another teenage suicide. A ten year old boy
received bad grades on his report card for the third time. He left his report
card at school knowing that if he brought it home he would be punished. When he
went home, without his report card, his father got suspicious. He went to the
school to pick it up, and in the half hour that he was gone, the little boy shot
himself. His brother remembered him saying that he could not stand the idea of
a whipping (Guetzloe pg.63). There have been many more suicide incidents and
Seiden (1966) suggested that ?increasing pressure for academic achievement would
lead to an increase in suicide rate among the student population? (Guetzloe
In a recent survey of sophomores in Ramapo High School, more than half
stated that they had a lot of pressure relating to school. Some came from
parents and some came from themselves. A person answering this survey stated, ?
Most of my pressure about grades and school and college comes from myself. Last
year, the pressure was so bad that I made myself sick.” According to Garfinkel,
3 of 10 leading causes of stress in adolescents are school related and 1 of 10
suicide attempts is related to a crises at school (Guetzloe pg.64). Also, in
this survey, 15 of 43 students have siblings that do better in school than they
do, and 10 of those students have parents expecting them to do as well as
Kelly Leaman and Tyler Mills were both interviewed and both students
stated that they have families that do extremely well in school. Kelly states, ?
My whole family is smart, and they all go (or went) to good colleges.” In the
issue of pressure affecting their school performance, Tyler said that he has a
good amount of pressure and that without it, he would probably do worse. Kelly
on the other hand, said that she would do a lot better if she had less pressure
from her parents.
Being a good parent means being there and having confidence in a child.
A parent should provide outstretched arms for a safe place when the child might
need it. The child should be relaxed and should be enjoying school. Maybe the
child will get good grades because he/she wants to (Webb pg.25).
Gaillard, Lee ?Hands Off Homework?? Education Week 14 December 1994
Guetzloe, Elennor C. Youth Suicide: What the Educators Should Know. New York:
The Council for Exceptional Children, 1989.
Leaman, Kelly – interview
Mills, Tyler – interview
Rubin, Dr. Jeffrey and Dr. Carol When Families Fight. New York: William Morrow
and Company, Inc. 1989
Webb, Margot Coping with Overprotective Parents. New York: The Rosen
Publishing Group, Inc. 1990