The burger approach to managing parent’s expectations.

So the exams are over and you have that jittery feeling in your tummy that the results may not quite meet your parents expectations. Sometimes breaking bad news like exam results can be tougher than doing the exam itself.  The secret to doing so and managing parent’s expectations can be as easy as enjoying a burger. Here is how:


(1) The Bun – Easy does it!

Nobody wants to hear a shocker and have a bomb dropped on them. Bad news is hard to digest so start off easy, be gentle and soft. Make sure your parents are comfortable and in a good mood when you want to break the bad news.


(2) The Greens – Make it light

Start off on a lite topic and be as cheerful as you can be.  Ask how their day has been or show some concern for them. Talk about the things that interest them or the most recent thing that you did together that was enjoyable. Throw in loads of hints of how you are such a good kid!


(3) The Cheese – Say all the right things

Even though you don’t completely buy it, say all the cheezy stuff like how much you love studying and doing all the endless homework. Say how all this hard work is really helping to prepare for your bright future….blah, blah, blah.


(4) The Patty – Here’s the heavy meaty truth!

Then slap on the bad news about your results. But try to break it down to bite-size chunks and pepper it with a lot of positivity. Your parents may want to know what went wrong and you may have to go through the different sections of the exam paper with them. But remember to be mindful that your parents may start getting a lil bit edgy by now. So be very mindful of your tone of voice and how you say things.


Section A – MCQ: Must-Cheong-Question.  Problem is too many confusing answers to choose and not enough time.

You think to yourself:

Too much to study, how to finish revising the syllabus in such a short span of time?!! Sure, MOE phased out exams for most levels, but we still have endless homework and term assessments. If you are in Secondary 4 you are loaded with preparation for DSA or have to start thinking about ‘O’ Levels!  And online learning is a whole new world! There’s just too much to do and not enough time.  As a students, you are just tossed with all sorts of demands and you don’t have a say in anything, And everybody expects you to A’s everything. Parents should sit for the exam themselves then they’ll know what it feels like!

But try to say this to your parents:
“There has been a lot of new things and new ways of doing things that I was not familiar with. And there is just not enough time to handle so much. All this makes me nervous as I am keen to do well in all of them Maybe you can provide some guidance and share your own experience when you were a student. Like how you felt when you were going through killer exams and stressed for time. That would really encourage me to know how you handled it”


Section B – Short break. Oops, did I miss out studying for this section?

You think to yourself: 
Some teachers really don’t know how to teach! Half the time my mind drifts off to outer-space and I dunno whaaat Cher is talking about. Ok, so I may have gotten a bit too distracted with Netflix but everybody needs a break, right?!!

But try to say this to your parents:
“I concentrated very hard during lessons but the teacher talked too fast and I missed out on a lot of information. But I did try to catch up on my own. The topics are also getting quite hard to understand and I feel my brain getting very tired when I study. So taking little breaks away from studies really helped me”.


Section C – Long-term consequences. Just too much depends on this.

You think to yourself:
It’s so unfair that people always think that you don’t care about your future just because your results don’t meet their expectations. But their expectations are unrealistic, there can only be one 1st place in every class, level and cohort. But being number 1 isn’t everything or the only thing, why can’t parents see that! Besides, pouring our entire term or year of learning into one paper may not work for everyone!

But try to say this to your Parents:

“There’s only 1 first place, but coming in number 38 in my class, out of a school of 1000 students is not too bad”.

But if this line is too cheeky for your parents, try this instead:

“I am very concern about my future but I’m learning to take things in my stride and pace myself so I can reach the finish line and do well at the end. My results may not be amazing this time but I’ll learn from this. I’ll work smarter, harder and do better the next time”.

Depending on what your parents are like, be prepared to face their disappointment. It may manifest in different ways and you probably already know what it’s gonna be like. Bear with it, it’ll blow over after a while.


(5) The Bun – This base will hold everything nicely together

Give your parents a soft landing with your results. They are as anxious as you are as they have very little control over the situation since they can only sit by the side lines while you battle it out in the education system. So, give them some assurance and allow them into some part of your world. And appreciate them even when they show their concern in ways that you don’t enjoy.

Try to say this to your parents:

I know you are anxious about my studies and my future, and I am thankful that you care. There’s just so much to handle in life and in school, so many things that I don’t understand and don’t know what to do about. Sometime, I feel very scared and confused, and I guess those feelings come out in the wrong way. So, I hope you’ll be patient with me as I go through all the trips and falls in life, and I hope you’ll continue to believe in me and be there for me.

Maybe, these words are not exactly what you will say to your parents. But the main thing is to manage their expectations in a calm and thoughtful manner. Find a good time to talk and let your parents onto your results gently. Also, a little appreciation goes a long way, so try that too with your parents.


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