How High Should Parents Set Standards for Children with Mental Illness?

September 9, 2011 Angela McClanahan

Here we go again--another school year, and with it, another round of Laying Down the Law. I do it every September--advise Bob (my son, who has bipolar disorder and ADHD) of what is expected of him in terms of his scholastic efforts.

And every year, I ask myself (and everyone else)--Am I expecting too much? Are my standards too high?
Yesterday, I read an article wherein teachers complained about today's parents, who seem hell-bent on treating their kids like Faberge eggs and preventing them from experiencing any form of disappointment ever. Parents who bargain with teachers over a few grade points, refuse to believe Little Precious could do anything wrong, and basically undermine the authority of teachers and administrators at every turn.

I was kind of surprised--I mean, I know parents like this exist (I've even met some of them, unfortunately), but I didn't realize this had become the standard. By comparison, I feel like Bob's teachers must think I'm Atilla the Hun.

Bob may have a lot of not-so-great stuff going on in his brain, but he also has a very high intellect. Knowing this, I don't expect perfection, but I do expect him to do very well with his schoolwork. I also know Bob has a propensity toward laziness, the patience of a boiling kettle, and the organizational skills of a hoarder (i.e., none). Meaning I have a tendency to be on his back quite a bit during the school year, particularly when it comes to homework assignments.

Today, he was to turn in the first weekly homework of the year--a worksheet of math problems, and a reading log (students are supposed to read for 20 minutes each day). His reading log had only three days of hastily-scribbled notes on it; his math worksheet has disappeared. And his teacher does not accept late homework. Period.

Mental Illness or Not, It's Time to Buckle Down to Work at School

homework1So beginning this week, Bob will have a specified homework time and place, and a specified reading time and place. Every. Day. I will continue working with him on organizing (as I have been since first grade). And I will continue to have high expectations.

Am I being too harsh? Should I take into consideration his limitations due to his medical condition? I don't think so. It may sound hard, but the real world won't cut him any slack if he's too depressed to do his job. If he starts a new medication, oversleeps and misses work, his boss won't likely let him "make up the time." The kids with Super-Buttinsky parents are in for a rude awakening when they enter the job market, and I don't want Bob to be one of them.

Sure, I think it sucks he has to be held to the same standards as others who don't have to overcome the same roadblocks. (I've had to deal with them, myself.) But it is what it is. The sooner he understands that, the better off he'll be.

APA Reference
McClanahan, A. (2011, September 9). How High Should Parents Set Standards for Children with Mental Illness?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 24 from

Author: Angela McClanahan

Dr Musli Ferati
September, 26 2011 at 6:32 pm

Definitively, to be parent of child with mentally problems presents great challenge. However, it should to respect and to perform some principles of right education that enable to bring up mature children. Among them is the the parental propensity of setting high standard to our children in their schooling. As a matter of fact, this tendency is the same harmful as to be negligent toward the difficulties of our child along its schooling. It should practice a moderate standpoint on their tremendous process of education. The guideline for this important effort should be mentally health children. Therefore parent ought to behave as respective mentally ill child to be mentally health person, and not our loved small child.

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