In the spirit of saving both the economy and their children from making the effort to choose their own career, Pakistani parents make a number of sacrifices. You can find them, in hospital hallways, right before their child is born, discussing future career options with extraordinary vigor – in most cases, as you will now see – the name of the child can only be discussed once other, more important decisions are made. Only when they’ve settled on a profession for the child to be born, will they decide a name; usually in a flurry, picking the first option they can think of since the most important decision has already been made. This child, that we speak of, will be a doctor. Or an engineer. Or a lawyer. Pick your favorite.
Now you might roll your eyes and claim this to be an exaggeration and perhaps, it is. But if you can name at least one kid from your class whose parents have forced them to choose a career path that they have absolutely no interest in then it’s time you admit that the above description, while comical and exaggerated, is no less than the truth.
This author will be the first to admit that parents do indeed struggle in the way of educating their children, often sacrificing their own comfort when needed. They spend bucketloads of cash to make sure their children graduate university and are able to earn their livelihood in a respectable, dignified manner that is enough to support them in their old age, if necessary.
But is it necessary for parents to forcibly interfere in their child’s career choices, not only patronizing their children in the process but also by making them feel as if they have no control over their own future? When you pretend to know everything there is to know about the world and your child and your child’s heart and mind, you’re not only putting them under a mountain of pressure but also stripping them of the ability to make decisions and mistakes which in turn deprives them of the opportunity to learn from different experiences. While parental concern and guidance should certainly be appreciated, isn’t it wrong of them to force their children to choose traditional professions such as law, medicine, engineering, business knowing full well that their child wishes to explore art or music or theatre?
Any advice that has been administrated by an amateur is generally treated as invalid, is it not? We would not consult just anyone if we were suffering from an illness, or if we wished to have a blueprint of some building drawn up, or if we wanted legal advice. Then why does the same rule not extend to parents; they are certainly not certified career counselors. They have little to no clue about how to test aptitude and potential and figure out what learning style suits their child best and yet they decide what stream we’ll join when it comes to academics. If you haven’t seen students suffering from such parental pressure – whether it comes to securing admission in a prestigious institution, or to give entry tests for medicine, engineering and law – take a look around your classroom and you will see a different person, maybe an artist or a writer or a musician struggling to fit into a mould that will eventually break them.
If you’re someone who is either struggling under the force of this free career counseling or have suffered from it in the past, please understand that you’re allowed to pursue your own interests when it comes to learning. You do not owe this chance to anyone else, especially your parents. Your dreams and hopes are different and you deserve to live up to your full potential. Speak out against this, convince your parents by coming up with a concrete, definite plan and be ready to show them that you are dedicated to the cause. Your chance at learning what you truly love is never too far and never impossible.
If you’re a parent and felt a twinge of guilt while reading this because you have been consciously or unconsciously steering your child your own way then please understand that your child isn’t obliged to fulfill your dreams or follow in your footsteps. You might share a genetic blueprint with them and you might have raised them to be the person they are today but nothing gives you the right to deprive your child of any opportunities that might come their way. If you fear that your child will make a mistake with their own choice then please know that it is better to learn from your own mistake than to learn from the mistakes of other’s, knowing you had no choice.
Let your children make their own choices; this is the one decision, that when made at the right time, will save you from conflict and regret later on in life.