Have you ever played a game of tug of war? Two teams pull the rope, and in the end the more powerful team wins and the losing team ends up on the floor. Imagine a similar tug of war happening between parents and children regarding career choices. This is not a game where either of the teams would want to end up on the floor. This is about real life, yet it is as real as it can get. Rare is a family that has never been through such a situation. While children may feel pressured by parents’ opinions, parents also aren’t very happy with how children react to their suggestions. How can this tug of war be turned into a win-win situation for both sides? It’s certainly not easy, but not impossible either. Let’s consider both sides of the coin.

When does the tussle begin? 

There is a misconception that a child must know from a young age what they want to be or they won’t be able to make it big in life. Otherwise, they must build a career in a field that their parents decide. An environment that prohibits questioning, be it questioning your parents, teachers, or yourself is known as conformism; such an environment is not viable for anyone’s growth. Not every child wants to be a doctor, an engineer, a teacher, or a manager. Some want to be painters, musicians, anthropologists, historians, or researchers. When a child is guided towards achieving something that aligns with their interests, it becomes easier for them to make an informed career choice. Allowing a child to build a career in a field of their choice not only ensures a financially secure future but also makes them feel happy, satisfied and fulfilled. The tussle begins when parents refuse to understand a child’s perspective and instead force their own ideals.

Why is it difficult to parent through a career choice? 

For some parents, learning that a child has decided what career they want to pursue can be a matter of pride; for some, it can be a matter of disagreement. This disagreement arises because many newer or unconventional career pathways may not seem promising to parents. In their experience, they may not have had exposure to different career opportunities. But in today’s world, there is no limit to what students can do. It can be difficult for parents to keep track of new career paths and understand their potential. Often, due to lack of awareness, parents do not understand their child’s career decision. Many times, when children approach parents to discuss a career path that parents are not aware of, they are often discouraged by statements like “today you want to do this, tomorrow you would want to do something else.” Such conversations can trigger a sense of rebellion in children that can harm their relationship with their parents. Unfortunately, this tug of war can lead to self-doubt, depression, and low self-esteem in children.  

What makes this tug of war harder?

Adding fuel to the already raging fire is society’s intervention. Some parents tend to get influenced by other children’s career journeys and may force their children to follow the same path. Also, there is a common perception that choosing an engineering, medical, or management course is the only way to build a successful career. Societal pressure sometimes makes parents feel that any other career choice is not respectable enough. Furthermore, children can also get easily influenced by friends when it comes to making personal and professional decisions. They are in a phase where friendships are very important and their entire world revolves around maintaining those friendships. This may result in choosing a career which their friends have chosen so that they can go to the same college and study together. This is all good but if the career chosen is not of their interest, they may end up wasting their precious college years, leading to a harder tug of war situation.

How to end this war for supremacy?

When the tug of war goes on for too long, it may end up harming both sides and no one wins. Career choices need not be a matter of war between children and parents, rather it’s a journey to be worked on together. Children do their best when they are motivated to pursue their interests and strengths. Parents should allow children to make mistakes and learn from them. They should extend a supporting hand to children whenever needed. Ultimately, what both parents and children want is the same – a happy and successful career. To achieve that both sides need to give up being rigid, and find a common ground to acknowledge differences of opinions without disrespect.   

If children are confused about career choices, they should not be scared of talking to their parents. If need be, they should seek professional counselling to help them navigate a career pathway with confidence. This will lead to better communication between parents and children as they would be able to confide in one another. They should attend online seminars and webinars where experts help to understand new career choices and how to go about them. Students can also undertake a career aptitude test to help choose a career based on their skills and interests. LaunchMyCareer is a career success platform that helps children and parents to get a deeper insight into career choices.

LaunchMyCareer’s anywhere-anytime accessibility with immersive tools and resources such as personality tests help you to unlock individual potential, discover unique careers and make informed decisions about the plethora of opportunities waiting for young people.

To know more, log on to LaunchMyCareer now.