Papa Don’t Preach

by Radhika Kumar

“What have you thought” he asked calmly with an unmistakable edge of disapproval because he knew I had something else in my mind.  I had my eyes fixated on the plate, I wanted to tell him loud and clear that I do not want a career which will transform me into automation but it so happened that my cocksure confidence evaporated in front of Papa. I couldn’t mutter the courage to tell him that 90 percent in Accountancy Class XII Boards will not decide my future. For my family pursuing Chartered Accountancy was more like a charted terrain, it seemed like the most sensible career choice to make. My father was a practicing CA from past 35 years and has three offices in Delhi/NCR. He always wanted his three children to take up the profession with gusto. My elder brother and sister were already caught up in the whirlpool and they hardly had a choice and my good percentage was spoiling my case too. A strange all knowing smirk covered his face when he said “A professional degree is a must to survive in this country. With a professional degree like CA, you would secure your future and then you can do whatever you want.”

I wish i could add my own two bits with ease but the glint of disapproval on his face was stopping me to say what i wanted to “I didn’t want to get into the circus of uncertainty by becoming a CA, i don’t like numbers. I’m not as diligent and above all i want to study human psychology”

My interest in Psychology grew when I first read Introduction to Psychology by Morgan and King which talked about every aspect of life. Who we are now, how we will be in the future, how we interact with family, friends, and strangers; left brain and the right brain etc. I wanted to study the mind, the human nature and different connotations to it.

It was impossible to convince a predetermined mind. I was oscillating madly between panic and pride. Pride because i secured a good percentage and panic because that percentage is not letting me do whatever i wanted to.

Though my parents have always been very encouraging and supportive but somehow i felt that in terms of deciding my career they didn’t want to support my choice rather they wanted to dominate theirs. My story may seem like a story of every other kid who encountered the devilish dilemma. As a parent and counselor i now understand that we always want the best for our offspring and it’s difficult to let go and let them make important decisions of their life on their own but the fact of the matter is that they have grown up and you as a parent have played a significant role in shaping their personality and confidence. If they stand up for what they want is because of the confidence that you instilled in them.

I feel career choices for children become less stressful if parents sooth the anxiety of their child’s career. Let your daughter/son feel free to explore a greater variety of professions, choosing one based on their own preferences rather than those of their parents.

Choosing a career is an extremely important decision that impacts an individual‘s entire future. It is important to stay positive otherwise it can become a stressful time for all involved. Parents unwittingly can make the future look terrifying. They have a major impact on our life decisions; they influence the level of education or training, our knowledge about work and different occupations and also our beliefs and attitudes. As children and as adolescent we absorb our parents influence subconsciously and it impacts our entire life graph. Career choices, new ideas should be encouraged or else it shut down the whole exploration process for the child. It is important for them to recognise that in the entire life journey for their children they simply have to act like facilitators who encourage children to make independent choices. Be involved, but do not try to control them and at the same time advise them the right path according to you but do not decide for them. Let them make their own choices, if they will falter, let them learn something new.

Parents should play a proactive role, a role of a good conversationalist who could help in a meaningful dialogue and help children understand the specifics of the career so that your ward can take informed decisions. The most effective counter argument, or a talk and dialogue is based on information, facts and figures. Let your daughter/son know that to convince them or for that matter to convince you for the right career choice there would be no arrow in the dark.

It is the parent’s duty to present all the variables to their children, have a frank discussion about financial assets and investments, and explore and understand the child’s interest and strengths. Sufficient time should be invested in structured discussions.Problem occurs when parents react and not respond. Instead of a meaningful dialogue, they try to prove their point and get into a useless argument. There is a pressing need to increase and encourage good conversations.

The definition of mainstream career choices has broadened remarkably in past 10 years. The need of the hour is to explore the choices before making a decision and it is important to make an informed decision. As a parent one can possibly introduce your son/daughter to someone currently doing the course/working in the career area. It’s important that you have done your spade work and made a list of proposed courses; and find out if your son/daughter has researched each course thoroughly. It’s imperative that you have a backup plan if the predicted results do not happen, you should have a Plan B to fall back on. Going in a planned way will help parents decide careers better and would help children make wise choices.

Happy Parenting!

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