Consider this scenario. You are a middle aged executive fairly settled in your job and leading a comfortable family life. Your children have become teenagers and are on the verge of finishing high school. Now you and your spouse will encounter a crucial question: What sort of higher studies and subsequently a career will your children get into? Given the present day condition of cut throat competition and limited availability of seats in the most sought after fields, anxiety and worries are bound to grip the parents of would- be high- school graduates. The more children you have, the greater is your discomfiture.
Since the lives of parents are intricately interwoven with that of their offspring, they are by far the best advisors for their children, provided of course that they are moderately educated. But unfortunately, due to social pressures and the raging spirit of rivalry, even highly educated and professionally successful parents come down very harshly on their children. By adopting unkind psychological methods like taunting, threatening and bullying, they compel their children to take up what they (the parents) want them (the children) to.
It follows as a natural corollary that doctors’ children end up as doctors, scientists’ children as scientists, businessman’s kids as businessmen and so forth. This is the general trend in India, at least. On their part, the children are reluctant to oppose their parents or break into revolt, to avoid domestic tensions and save face in public.
But this use of coercion by the parents and guardians often takes a heavy toll of the students’ mental and emotional stability. Forced into a strange sphere against their wishes, they either fail to perform or perform miserably and in the process invite further sarcasm or ridicule from their parents, peers, acquaintances and so forth.
To get out of this uncomfortable situation, you as parents need to adopt a considerate and sympathetic attitude towards your wards. Some suggestions as to how to cope with the career problems of children are outlined below:
First and foremost you must realize that each child is an individual as distinct from the others. Each child has certain innate qualities, latent abilities and talents, which need to be honed and chiseled over the years in order to bring out the best in him or her. Therefore, even when you watch your child growing up along with your neighbor’s children, sharing their ideas and tastes, you must bear in mind that his/her needs are still unique.
By the time a child is 7 – 8 years of age, his/her likes and dislikes, predilections and weaknesses begin to emerge clearly. It would be important to keep a track of these when the child enters teenage and is about to choose his /her future career. Just because Mr X’s daughter is good in mathematics or Mrs Y’s son is good in Physics, and your child is not, does not mean he/she is stupid or dull. Why, he/she may be good in music/ geography/ English/ needlework/ painting? It becomes your duty therefore, to help him mould a decent career out of the things he/she is good at.
Never chide or admonish your child in front of others. More particularly so when he/she has metamorphosed into an adolescent or teenager. Doing so will hurt his/her ego and shatter his/her self-confidence. He/she will end up doing far more badly in his forthcoming tests or examinations.
For God’s sake do not compare your child with others. If XYZ scores cent percent marks in science or mathematics and your child score only fifty percent, flogging your child black and blue will not help at all? He /she is likely to be smarting under dual insults: the low success coupled with the physical pain, which will prove to be detrimental for his/her psyche.
The ideal thing to do would be to sit down with your child in a relaxed and cordial atmosphere and chalk out his/her future course of action. Let your kid tell you freely and frankly about his secret, heartfelt dreams and ambitions. Then together explore the possibilities of fulfilling that dream. Suppose your child is much above average in academics, and dreams of joining Oxford, Cambridge or MIT, it is your duty to garner detailed information from authentic sources v.i.z The British Council or the USEFI, regarding eligibility conditions, course content, scholarships and financial aids etc. It is imperative to take stock of your own resources to serve as a back-up, just in case your child manages to secure an admission but no financial aid. Above all, you must ensure that he performs exceedingly well in his school leaving exam. To this end, you must leave no stone unturned.
The choice of subjects is an uphill task. Suppose your child is equally good in physics, zoology and chemistry, what should he/she choose? Medicine, Engineering or an M.Sc.? In case you are unable to decide, it is advisable to visit career counseling centres.There are plenty of them functioning these days and some professional ones too.
In addition, There are Education and Career Fairs being conducted by foreign embassies and organisations, in the Indian metros and large cities where the prospective students can gain first hand knowledge by interacting with the representatives of universities.After meeting the counselors, the parents and children should consider the pros and cons, the future possibilities and only then take the final decision.
As parents, you must understand that being a doctor, software engineer, scientist, a chartered accountant or an MBAs is not the be-all-and-end- all of life. Not all individuals in the professions mentioned above are successful and affluent. Instead if your child is able to achieve success in less popular or lesser known spheres, wouldn’t that afford you a greater degree of satisfaction and happiness? Ask yourself, is it worthwhile to run after a mirage instead of settling for something more tangible?
In all probability, your basic problem is your position in the society and your personal ego!! It is erroneous to believe that the degree of success or the failure of your child will tarnish your image and prestige in the society. You might have been a brilliant student yourself and are now a successful professional. But your child cannot be your carbon copy or a clone. He/she has his/her own limitations and weaknesses. And some plus points too!! Allow him/her to carve out a academic record for him/ herself and thereafter embark on a profession according to his/her abilities.
Your child has to think about himself/herself and pave his future. He/she is answerable to himself/herself and of course to the parents. The rest of the society be damned! Ask yourself, why must a young child be a sacrificial lamb at the altar of your ego? He has the right to live his own life just as you have lived your, so far.
Be a good parent. Inculcate a sense of adventure and a quest for the unknown in yourself as well as the child. Together you could explore the hitherto unknown career avenues some of which are currently developing. These careers need a number of personnel to tap their potentials and help them blossom fully. So why not take a plunge? Who knows a wonderful future might be awaiting your child? The only drawback could be lower remunerations. But as we all know materials considerations are always subservient to acquisition of knowledge and savoir-faire.
Unfortunately, the Indian society today is plagued by the Log Kya Kahenge (what will people say?) syndrome. It is high time this peculiar mindset of the Indians undergoes a sea change and the focus ought to shift to the family and the individual, instead of the society at large.