Over involved parenting can cause burnout

Lasirra Hines, Blue M Editor-in-Chief

Parental involvement in a child’s life leads to confidence and success in achieving their goals. There is such a thing as too much involvement. Over involved parents are those who take an obsessive interest in their child’s life and their future. 

Over involved parenting comes with high aspirations and expectations placed on their children as well as what is known as parental boasting

Dr. Kou Murayama, Professor in the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences at the University of Reading, along with his co authors, conducted a study that was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The study assessed math achievement as well as parental aspiration. They also measured parental expectation, or how likely parents thought their kids could actually achieve those marks.

The results showed that high parental aspiration led to increased academic achievement, but only when it did not overly exceed a realistic expectation, or what was dubbed “over aspiration.” 

“Although parental aspiration can help improve children’s academic performance, excessive parental aspiration can be poisonous,” Murayama said.

The result of excessive parental aspiration is burnout in the child. The child tries to achieve everything that is expected of them from their parents, whether that be in extracurriculars or Advanced Placement classes, adding on to the stress and frustration with no sight of relief or relaxation.

“I see parents pushing their kids too much, I see kids pushing themselves too much,” Manhattan High Counseling Department head Eric Ross said. “We’ve added so many college classes and so many AP classes, it’s great we have these opportunities but sometimes I think kids get stretched too thin. Everybody wants to get as many college credits done as they can, but at the same time, college is for college. And I know college is expensive, and I know we want to get things done, but sometimes [with] the stress kids are in it’s better just to do it in its own time.” 

The effects of burnout on a child go unseen or thought of as just behavioral issues that are temporary and aren’t due to parenting choices.

An article from Winchester Hospital explains the psychological effects of parent over aspiration and over involvement in the form of gifted children which are children that have the capability to perform at higher levels compared to others of the same age, experience and environment in one or more domains. These children often receive praise and grow up with excessive expectations, resulting in burnout.

Some of the effects include: boredom and impatience, frustration and disappointment when ideals are not reached, preoccupation with deep human concerns, sometimes leading to anxiety and depression, power struggles, temper tantrums and other behavior problems may surface. Additionally, students may see a decrease in academic performance.

“Unrealistically high aspiration may hinder academic performance; therefore, simply raising aspiration cannot be an effective solution to improve success in education,” said Murayama in “Don’t Aim Too High for Your Kids: Parental Overaspiration Undermines Students’ Learning in Mathematics.”