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A Parent’s Role in Career Choices

Example 2 – reactive/bad conversation:
Father – Son, do engineering.
Son – I am not interested in engineering.
Father – What do you want to do?
Son – I don’t know ….
Father – Then do engineering!

In today’s world, the roles parents play have to expand and more time should be devoted to career-choice discussions. There is a pressing need to increase ‘good conversations’!

In your opinion, to what extent should a parent influence a child’s choice of career?

Parents have to play a major role as the role of school teachers in our country is minimal, unlike in the west where schools have a counsellor who assists considerably in the process. Since this is not a straightforward decision to make, getting it right is important. It is the parent’s duty to present all the variables to their children, have a frank discussion about their financial assets and investments, and explore and understand the child’s interest and strengths. Sufficient time should be invested in structured discussions.

Are parents more accepting of children’s interest and choices, especially when they are not mainstream?

Parents today have definitely become more accepting of children’s choices. The definition of mainstream itself has broadened! Even until just 15 years ago, children could choose only between engineering, medicine or commerce, but now the definition of mainstream includes Hotel Management, Human Resources Management, Business Management, and Languages – making a career as a translator is well accepted. Parents see that there are more options and also realise that they may not be as informed as their children about these choices – hence, they are more willing to consider their children’s decisions. Of course, there is still some resistance to more unusual choices – if the child says he wants to become an actor for instance – as these still fall outside what is defined as mainstream and parents are concerned about the success of the child. I think as long as parents see a ‘credible plan of action’ they will be more accepting of different choices.

Do you see a difference in the way parents approach career choices in metros vs. tier-2 towns?

In metros, parents (and children) have access to a wider variety of people in different careers. Hence, their awareness levels are higher than those from smaller towns and they, therefore, tend to be more open. However, the approach to selecting a career is not significantly different – in both regions, there is an overwhelming importance placed on the selection of the course and college, and less on the actual career the child is going to pursue.


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