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Finding a balance between your parents/carers’ expectations of you and your own desires can feel like a constant battle. If they want you to take one path and you’re set on another, you might be feeling stressed and guilty right now.

Read on for some practical tips on how to deal with parents/carers’ expectations.

Remember: you're good enough

First up, it’s important to remember that you are good enough, just as you are. What you choose to do with your life is important, but it doesn’t define your value as a person. It can help to work out what your strengths are. Take this free test to find your top five character strengths. 

If you're struggling with feeling good about yourself, it also helps to practise positive self-talk. Find out how to do this here.

Remember you are important


Try to understand where your parents/carers are coming from

It’s actually okay that you and your parents have different ideas and expectations. What matters is how you deal with the situation.

Their expectations are usually because they want you to succeed or to be happy. It might just be that their idea of what success or happiness looks like is very different from yours. Or, it might be related to their expectations of themselves.

If you think their expectations of you are unrealistic, it can help to acknowledge this (even just to yourself).

Work on your communication skills

Having open, honest conversations with your parents/carers about what you want for your life can really help.

You could start this conversation by saying something like, ‘I understand why you want me to be a doctor, but I don’t think this matches my strengths or interests.’

Some other tips for having this conversation include:

  • Find a time when your parents/carers are free and relaxed.
  • Explain that you’re worried you can’t meet their expectations.
  • Tell them what you want to do with your future.
  • Listen to what they have to say.
  • If you feel you’re not getting anywhere, agree to disagree.


Check your own expectations

Make sure your own expectations of yourself aren’t too high. Having goals is great, but if you put heaps of pressure on yourself you’ll probably feel stressed. Check in with how you’re feeling and whether you’re being too hard on yourself. See how to set goals here and check in with how you’re going here.

Check your own expectations

 What to do if it's really getting to you

Even if you follow all the tips above, your parents/carers might still be disappointed with the choices you make. If so, remember that there are probably other areas of your life that they’re really happy about.

Balancing your parents/carers’ expectations with your own can be tricky. If you’re really struggling, talk to another trusted adult or friend and get their take on it.

What can I do now?