School puts too much stress on kids

Dear Grandparenting: I think that we as a society place too many expectations on our grandchildren. I say this after watching how my own grandkids get wound so tight during the school year. They can get back to being kids again over the summer and get back to normal. Then school starts up again and so does the stress.

It’s not a good sign when children come home with a 98 on a test and spend the rest of the night crying because it was not 100, like my granddaughter Tracie last spring. Something is wrong when children drop out of advanced courses for the wrong reasons, like another granddaughter from another family. She complained it took too much time and “ruined” her foreign language grade (which I later learned was 95!). It was just added pressure on her.

My grandsons have their own similar stories. I don’t ever recall carrying around that kind of load in high school or middle school like these kids do. Something sucks the joy of childhood right out of them, and I wish I had an answer. Maybe you do? Pinky Williams, Pennside, Pennsylvania

Dear Pinky: We ran across an interesting study of 1,400 high school students in an outlying suburb of California’s Silicon Valley who were anonymously tested for depression and anxiety in 2015.

The results were stunning, far beyond anything resembling normal in an adolescent population. Nearly 56 percent of the students tested for moderate to severe symptoms of depression, and an alarming 80 percent suffered moderate to severe anxiety. Other studies support those same general findings, if less robustly.

Grandchildren don’t have to be shooting for class valedictorian or high honors to feel like school life is a pressure cooker. Things their grandparents and parents believed to be doable — a decent job and eventually a home — are hardly automatic nowadays, and life is expensive.

While bullying and social issues certainly can contribute to a grandchild’s distress, research indicates that academics are most frequently the cause. According to America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the vast majority of teens get at least two hours less sleep a night than recommended, while elementary school doctors report treating more headaches and ulcers.

Chalk it up to school stress. Dialing down the academics makes sense, the better to ease back on the throttle and manage the workload. If grandchildren cannot be convinced it’s for their own good, the decision should be made for them.


Nanny Nicole, of San Diego, California, says she doesn’t “do babysitting” when her grandkids come over. “I think of it as a play date.”

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By Tom and Dee and Cousin Key

Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.