Shruti Shah Kathuria
Last Sunday, on the dinner table, my 10 year old opened up to me and my husband about her dream to become a fashion influencer.
I would be lying to myself if I said I felt happy or proud. There was little awkwardness in my response, which I am sure would have got conveyed to her.
As I thought over it more and more, I realised how caught up ‘we’ parents are in our expectations from our children and wanting them to exactly follow what we feel is ‘good for them’. And this got me to go deeper and unearth some bitter yet genuine facts about the society we are in and how we are making it even tougher for our children.
We would all agree that whatever we are, and hope to be, we owe it to our parents. And that’s because often parents sacrifice most of their money, time and resources on the well-being of their children. And this concern takes a step forward with parents leading to decide the career path for their children as they grow up. In a study published in Journal of College Student development by Creamer, E.G. & Laughlin in the year 2005, it was stated that parent’s influence on children is so strong that it can even “override the influence of teachers, faculty, and career counsellors, who likely know more about the career field in question but were not as well-known and/or trusted as the student’s parents for this type of decision.”
LinkedIn study states that Indian parents play a key role in shaping the career paths of their children, as 82 per cent parents are involved in deciding their child's career. Globally, India is amongst the top three countries following this trend with Brazil highest at 92 per cent, followed by China at 87 per cent.
Asked to rank the most important goals that they wanted their child to achieve as an adult
- 51% of the Indian parents choose successful careers
- 49% choose happiness in life
- 33% identified a healthy life style
- 22% wanted them to earn enough for a comfortable life and
- 17% rated fulfilling their children’s potential as the ultimate goal
When it comes to choice of subjects, the largest number of Indian parents wanted their children to study engineering (23%) which was followed by business management and finance (22%), computer and information sciences (16%), medicine (14%) and law (2%). Another startling fact basis a survey suggest staggering 93% of the students aged 14 to 21 were aware of just seven career options available in India.
Looking at the stats above, the Problem at hand is not what it seems on the surface. Dive deep and we see depression, anxiety and unhappiness seeping in as these students turn into professionals and pursue the careers that came their way from their first circle of influence. And in today’s fast evolving scenario, the job coming from a parent’s well intended advise might be close to redundancy, with futuristic jobs like Data Junkie, Blockchain Architect, Sensor curator, Biohacker taking their place. Hence, guidance of parent alone is not enough to make the child future ready.
Besides this, each child is born with certain personality traits, attributes and competencies. Personality traits are often ingrained or inborn & deep seated within us like confidence, shyness, security, etc. Attributes are specific behaviours that are learned as part of external experiences like loyalty, integrity, motivation, enthusiasm etc. And competence is a mix of skills, abilities, expertise and knowledge. These can be easily identified and measured. And hence comes the toughest question for an Indian parent…
How can we push our child to walk a path just to fulfil our unfulfilled desires or pressurize them to be what our next door neighbor is doing, without understanding their traits, attributes, competencies, interests & aspirations?
This is what is happening in the society at the moment, & is what is called the ‘thief of joy’ by Theodore Roosevelt: comparison. Imagine what would have happened to Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs careers, if their parents had influenced or pushed their choice of career on them!
Change in approach
In order to make our children lead a happy, fulfilled life and become truly effective in their job, we need to think beyond our personal understanding of careers, experiences, desires and societal affirmations. The child needs to be understood, their hidden traits discovered, & their interest areas explored. Children deserve to know not just their own self, but also latest trends in job market, right courses, right colleges and universities to pursue their passion and the right guidance at the right time. As a parent, though its not an as easy as it seems to provide all this on your own, there are interesting platforms available to provide this service.
To sum it all up, As a nation and society, we have come a long way from days of struggles and scarcities. India is emerging as the fastest growing economies in the world, which is attracting billions of dollars of investment especially in EdTech; thereby offering huge opportunities and choices for our youth to follow their dreams. Its time we broaden our horizons and be the wind beneath the wings of millennials & GenZ to soar high and turn their dreams to reality
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