Ask Kari: How can I convince my teenage son to not overload himself with too many advanced classes?

Dear Kari,

My son is in high school and recently registered for classes for the next school year. He and I struggled with the classes he should take, as he is fearful that if he does not take all advanced classes he will be a failure in life. I have tried to reason with him, that he can aim high but he does not need to stress himself out at the ripe old age of 16. Part of the challenge, is that his school guidance counselor is telling him he must take these classes to get into a good college. How can I convince him that I am right?

Frustrated Mom

Dear Frustrated Mom,

This is a pet peeve of mine today. I see many stressed-out families and adolescents in my practice who are afraid to make the wrong choices for their children and themselves. One’s life needs not be made by the classes they take in high school. While it is important to pay attention to school, grades, and goals, I feel we are overwhelming our children with 4.5 GPA’s, SAT scores, and the fear of choosing wrong. I support you in stabilizing the process, helping your son aim high, but not function from a place of fear. We as parents need to push back and remember that we did not have such pressures when we were in school, and we can decide to protect our children from such unrealistic pressures today. Our children will be fine if we support them in growing into who they are meant to be in life (which should be the goal of all parents).


As published in the May 2017 issue of Connections.


About Kari:

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a licensed independent clinical social worker and a resident of Issaquah Highlands.

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