Bethesda Parenting: How Does it Affect Students?

Bethesda v. The World

By Ana Curic

Bethesda parenting is drastically different from parenting in other parts of the United States, and even more different from parenting around the rest of the world. My family is originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and upon moving to the US, my parents and myself immediately noticed the drastic differences in parenting. The biggest thing we noticed was that parents are much more involved in their kid’s lives. Not to imply that parents anywhere else in the world are not involved in their kid’s lives, but in Bethesda, the level of involvement is on another level. Not only do they help their children with their homework, or hire tutors to do so, they go to every single soccer game, play, bake sale etc. They do this, while still managing to hold some of the highest ranked and highest paid jobs in the U.S.

There is also a culture of competition among parents in Bethesda that is not seen in many other places. It’s a competitive sport among parents to be the best parents and to have the best and/ or most successful kids. Parents in this area are overcommitted to their children’s success, which begs the question if it is really a competition of the children's success or a reflection of the parent’s success. This can be attributed to the fact that Bethesda parents are composed of some of the most educated people in America. Every parent has attended a top school and obtained a secondary, and most times even tertiary, level of education.

With such high achieving parents, the expectation that their kids will achieve or surpass their level of success is emphasized through the parenting style. Bethesda parents do everything to insure their kid’s success, which is reflected in their parenting style, whether it be hiring 10 different tutors or even going to every bake sale or soccer game. Parents all around the world want their kids to succeed and will do everything they can to help, but with so much available at their fingertips, Bethesda parents take parenting to another level.

The "Over-Hyped" Bethesda Parent

By Jackson Hermes

The way I see it, Bethesda parenting is, for lack of a better word, overhyped. I see many people label it as unnecessarily toxic and unhealthy, but I can’t understand that. Of course, I sympathize with anyone with abusive helicopter parents, but so many people say their parents are so hard on them when it’s their lack of motivation for achievement that makes it seem like this. Parents obviously want the best for their children, so they will push their children to be ambitious and motivated, but a lot of the time the children don’t mirror this. Some of this stems from common teenage rebellion, but some of it also stems from where we are; one of the best high schools in Maryland, and exceptionally high-ranked nationally. While teachers bump up and inflate grades with safety quizzes and copy-what-you’re-hearing classworks, it’s insanely easy to barely apply yourself to schoolwork and get decent grades, either a testament to how good our teachers are or how easy they make the courses. Currently, my AP World History (a college level class) grade is an 87%, but my average quiz grade is an 11/15, simply because the weekly notes are graded as 15 formative points, the same as the quiz. All the power to the teachers that grade homework notes as formative grades, but there needs to be a reality check for many students that are in similar positions as me who obviously aren’t learning and retaining the information as well as they could be, but are allowed to skate by based on relatively free formative points. At its most basic level, the problem that many people see in the parenting is, in my opinion, a problem of the school and curriculum, where parents want their kids to succeed but the kids see this as unnecessary because they’re already getting good grades, even when they put in little effort. If there were more incentives to put in work, there wouldn’t be as much of a stereotype that the Bethesda parent pushes their kid too hard or is too competitive.

The constant conversation of Bethesda parenting shows a problem in the culture of Bethesda’s youth; we don’t understand the positions that we put ourselves in. Every kid’s dream is to make it in life, right? None of us really want to work a 40-hour-a-week desk job that pays “just enough”, right? So why do we keep making poor decisions that do nothing for us? Why do we continue this pattern of underage drinking and substance abuse, when there are hundreds of better things we could be doing for ourselves? Why do we always play the victim when our parents try to make something out of us, try to imprint some sense of responsibility, try to make sure we make none of the same mistakes they might have made? Too many times I’ve heard something to the effect of “I don’t like my parents for doing x y and z”, or “my parents don’t let me do fun stuff”, and I think the majority of the time the people saying it just don’t understand why their parents do some things, and that’s something that we need to understand if we want to have a mature conversation about how Bethesda parenting is “toxic.” Our view of the future is warped, one way or another, and when our parents simply want to teach us that a normal life can and most likely will happen, and that we must take steps to prepare ourselves well for what’s ahead, we can’t see it as hostile anymore.

In other words, I see the Bethesda parenting stereotype as simply a repinning of the blame for our own faults on our parents. I wouldn’t think that Bethesda parenting is any different from parenting in any other city or town. It’s the perspective of the youth that contributes to the negative view of the parents in our area.

Anonymous Bethesda Mom

By Anonymous B-CC Student

The harsh lights flood into my dark room at 6 in the morning. I hear the shrill voice of my mother as she barrels down the stairs and into my room. “WE NEED TO WORK ON YOUR COLLEGE ESSAYS!” I hear as I attempt to roll over in my bed and cover my eyes to shield them from the light. Covering my eyes, while helpful to provide a slightly more relaxed morning environment, does not help the loud yelling of my mother. She reminds me that my grades are dropping (thank you senior year), college applications are due in 2 days (thank you November 1st), and most importantly, I am underachieving (thank you anxiety and other mental health issues).

This morning scene is not uncommon in the Bethesda bubble. Parents from around the area are hell bent on getting their children into the “best” schools, so they can flex their child’s acceptance to the local listserv! All of these toxic traits of Bethesda parents are normally well intentioned, however, the consequences of their toxicity can be shown through the poor mental health of students in our area and the competitive school environment in our county.

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