As long as you have the blessing of your parents it does not matter even if you live in the mountains. ~ Greek proverb
Career Selection and Parental Opposition
What do you do when your career choice clashes with your parents’ choice? Many young people in their beginning years are forced by parents to make career choices that are not their own. This often results in misery for the child. In this blog, I’ll share my personal experience and the surprising lesson I learnt in the process. I’ll also share three practical options to overcome this hurdle.
It was the final year of high school, and I was excited about my future possibilities. My mom had promised that if I passed all my CXC subjects that she would “cream” my hair. In Jamaica, creaming refers to the process of straightening ones hair. Well lo and behold, I passed all my subjects, but the promise was not met. Even more, I wanted to go to Sixth Form like the rest of my friends, but she had other plans. I wanted to be a chemist, but she wanted to send me to Teachers’ College, which in hindsight was a continuation of the legacy of teaching on my paternal side of the family. My grandmother, grandaunt, father and an uncle had all been teachers. I however, resented this.
Consequently, this was a most miserable time of my life. I felt I was too brilliant for teaching, and only those who did not perform well in high school chose that career. Oh how wrong I was! Nevertheless, my misery continued throughout my time in teachers’ college from the age of 17-20. During the first week of college, I had an accident and damaged my back. Then I began my rebellion against my mom. However, the die was cast and I could not change my career trajectory at that time.
I remember on teaching practice, my internal invigilator complimented me. She said I would be a good teacher. Over the years I remembered her remarks. Additionally, a friend at church said, much to my dismay, that God had called me to teach. Fast forward twenty years later. While teaching Career Guidance at a vocational training institute, I realized that the best part of my day was teaching the trainees. I came alive whenever I went to teach them. The trainees enjoyed my classes immensely, and similarly to my internal assessor’s observation, my colleagues and even the managers have all said the same, “You are gifted at teaching. You seem to love what you do. You are a good teacher.”
The truth now is that I have come to love teaching but not traditional subjects. In college, I was trained to teach General Science and Spanish. After undergraduate and graduate studies, I taught theological courses and Spanish related subjects. However, those never gave me joy like teaching life skills and how to make effective career and life choices. I now recognize that career development, which involves teaching, is the perfect field to utilize the gift of teaching and fulfil the call to empower youths to win at life.
Sometimes Your Parents are Right
Why did I tell this story? In my case, my mother was right in choosing my career path. Fortunately, her selection worked in my favour despite my resistance. I realize in hindsight that my mother could not afford to send me to university, and what she was trying to do was to position me to take care of myself from early on. Unfortunately, this was not clearly communicated to me. As an adult, now I understand, but I did not back then. In some cases, perhaps like me, you may find out that your parents were right after all. They may see a gift in you that you are not seeing in yourself now.
1. View it as a Stepping Stone
When there are financial constraints, this sometimes is a necessary choice. A stepping stone is an action or event that helps one to make progress towards a specified goal. If the career choice is not the one you like, the interim training and work can serve as a stepping stone to later doing what you really love. If you are a young person whose parents have financial constraints, I would encourage you to find a stepping stone field of interest or job to serve as a platform to later pursue your ideal career.
2. Seek Financial Aid
If you really want to pursue your career choice as a first option and there are financial challenges, do some research to see if there are scholarship opportunities, financial aid or alternative ways to pursue your ideal career/profession from the start. Do not leave it all up to your parents. I wished I had known about this option. Each year embassies and other places offer scholarships which go untaken because of ignorance. There are persons who go through college and university without paying a cent because they seized scholarship opportunities.
3. Seek Respected Helpers to Persuade
If your parents can afford it, but are insisting on you doing what they want, I recommend having your guidance counsellor, a teacher, relative or someone your parents respect talk to your parents on your behalf. But before you do this, do a self-inventory to find out what you really want. Investigate thoroughly your preferred career and the path to getting there. Create a plan on paper.
I’m sure this kind of thinking and action will impress your parents, and hopefully they will comply. If this still does not work, you may have to do what they tell you, since you cannot afford to further develop yourself on your own and may be under age. Whatever the outcome, find a legitimate way to use your gift to create impact and income and pursue your ideal life and career.
Know this assuredly, that doing work you love is vital to your health. You cannot do effective work for long in doing what you hate. Don’t make your working years miserable. Perhaps this is one reason why many people are now changing careers almost every five to seven years. I want you to get it right early.
Design to Win Road Map
This article is an excerpt from my new book Design to Win Road Map: Your Winning Life and Career Compass. I encourage you to get the book to help you chart your path to work/career fulfillment so you can escape the job dissatisfaction club, excel at work and win at life. You can preview/browse the paperback version of the book on Amazon by clicking this link. Order the Amazon kindle version for US$9.99 at this link. The paperback version in Jamaica is J$3000. If you are in Jamaica order directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1876-782-9893.
Comment, Like and Share
If you like this article, please share it with your friends and family on social media or email. Let me know what career fulfillment looks like for you.
Cheers to you creating a fulfilling work/career!