How Family Demands Influence Our Children's Education

17 June, 2020
In this article we'll talk about how important it is for parents to let their children freely choose what they want to be and do in life. Also, how they should avoid hindering them in this journey with social and family demands and obligations.

During our children’s education, we have many expectations, dreams, projects, and objectives for them. Sometimes we don’t realize that all of these can become obligations, which they feel they have to fulfill and adopt in their lives. As parents, it’s important that we reflect on how our family demands, rules and obligations can influence our children’s education.

These rules and demands will often determine, to a greater or lesser extent, the possibilities they have to build their own life project. They’ll also influence their freedom to choose the way they want to feel fulfilled in life.

Social and family demands and obligations

Society, religion, and the family itself, establish and transmit lots of rules from generation to generation, some explicitly and others implicitly. These can be values, and ways of acting, thinking and behaving that most people generally accept, and which are, at first sight, unquestionable.

However, what happens is that many people, at some stage in their life, find that these rules start to contradict their own personality and goals. They end up adopting these rules. However, they only do it as a facade that hides feelings, opinions and thoughts that have nothing to do with what they’re being told.

So, the decision of whether or not to break certain social and family demands, rules and obligations will depend on each person and their options, conditions, possibilities, and ability to do so.

How Family Demands Influence Our Children's Education

It will also mainly depend on their need to be themselves in a world full of rules and values that make us act like everyone else, without really wanting to and without sharing those values. This is also the case with beliefs for which your child may feel there’s no support or justification, neither rational nor emotional.

External rules and family demands that influence a child’s education

These rules and demands, sometimes unwritten or unstated, are very diverse. They range from the most superficial to the most existential. They have a very strong emotional component because they’re almost always associated with people we know and relationships we have. And, also, because they interfere in how children build their own identities.

Here are some ways that family demands and expectations influence our children:

  • The political party we have to identify with and the football team we have to follow and associate with. This is because our parents and grandparents have always identified with them.
  • The way we dress, as our family has certain expectations in this regard.
  • The religion we have to follow and how we should behave according to its rules.
  • The subjects we should study or the profession we should choose, in line with our parents’ or grandparents’ views.
  • How we should think, the opinions we should have on different subjects, and even the things we shouldn’t talk about.
  • The types of relationship we should have with other people. What’s wrong and what’s right, and how we should feel and express these things.
  • Expectations relating to fashion and social networks. Also to gender, customs, social class, or ethnicity.

How obligations and family demands influence a child’s education

Rules and family demands don’t only imply an obligation or duty to do things or be someone that our children don’t want to do or be (and yet they do just to please their parents). Obligations also become real obstacles in the building of their personality and identity. This is because they don’t seem at all rational to them. As a result, there’s a real emotional and relational wear and tear.

So, in more practical terms, we could say that obligations and rules influence our child’s education by creating:

  • Frustrations caused by the contradictions between what they internally want to be or do, and what they know their father or grandmother would like them to be or do.
  • Feeling guilty for thinking, feeling or acting in a different way to the rest of the family nucleus.
    How Family Demands Influence Our Children's Education
  • Anxiety, sadness, or a lack of motivation in knowing that you’ll never be able to choose a particular career or profession, or even take up a certain hobby or trade, simply because it’s not accepted in the family.
  • Feeling rejected, and transmitting that rejection towards family members. This is as a result of the obligation to comply with rules and obligations that we don’t share or believe in. These rules may be stated or simply implied.
  • Reactions of rage and anger with relatives and with the whole world. This happens when a person gradually feels they have to abandon their own dreams and projects just to feel accepted and have the approval of the family.
  • Attitudes of increasing rebelliousness towards parental disapproval and their misunderstanding of dress, tastes, or hobbies.

Cutting back on social and family demands, rules and obligations is an act of self-love.

Finally…

As parents, we’re often unaware of how our rules and obligations can influence a child’s personality and character. So, if we really want their happiness and want them to have the freedom to fully express themselves as human beings, then we must give them more freedom to choose.

The challenge for parents in raising their children is not to burden them with family demands and obligations. They need to trust them and teach them to be good people, regardless of what they study or who they choose to love. We should do this whether or not they challenge and abandon cherished family traditions, values, and ideologies. Let’s do this, however unthinkable this may seem to some of us.

Note: When we speak of rules, we aren’t, of course, referring to the necessary rules that a parent must teach their child in order to bring them up in a decent, correct, law-abiding way. We’re referring to the unnecessary rules that will hinder their development.