Should Parents Dictate Their Children’s Career?

When a number of pupils are asked what they would like to be when they grow up, many spontaneously mention ” lawyer”, “architect”, “medical doctor”, “pilot” or a “professor.”

This big five professions, among others are what a number of parents tell their children to strive to be. Paulus Amutenya (not his real name) discovered early that he had a passion for writing when his teachers used to read his compositions in class when he was still in primary school. He was an avid reader of journals, novels and all other literature and he knew that he was cut out to become a prolific writer. However, his father had a different mission for him. A retired teacher himself, he wanted his son to follow in his footsteps and become a teacher. Thus, when Paulus passed his Grade 12, his father aised him to pursue Education at the University of Namibia (Unam) instead of Journalism, which he was so passionate about. His father told him that he would not pay his fees unless he followed his command.

So Amutenya had to go by his father’s wish and study Education specialising in the English language. After graduation, he sat at home for one year. Even though there were teaching offers that came his way, the classroom was the last thing he wanted to spend the rest of his life in. In the meantime, he used to write articles for a newspaper as a freelancer, which were always published. When the newspaper aertised positions for journalists, Amutenya knew that that was his lucky break. With his writing experience, he was hired as a writer and today, he is doing what he knows best, writing.

Amutenya’s experience brings to the fore the question of whether parents should make career choices for their children. When a number of learners are asked what they would like to be when they grow up, many spontaneously mention lawyer, architect, doctor, pilot or a professor. This five professions, among a slate of others, are what a number of parents tell their children to strive to be. But “does this take into cognisance the child’s natural skills and abilities that he or she can take aantage of and become a useful member of society in future, in different fields far divorced from his or her parent’s prescriptions?”, asks Lucas Iipinge. And at what age should parents set their children free to make their own choices depending on their innate talents?

John Siakobva (31), an entrepreneur who hails from the Caprivi region, now operating a shop in the Ohangwena region, says when parents become so overbearing as to choose careers for their children, they may unwittingly end up crippling their growth. “Once, when I was still young, l felt sheltered for the first 16 years of my life since my parents used to make decisions for me,” he says adding that his parents forced his hands into two life changing decisions that were in no way theirs to make. “It took me years of hard work to regain and put myself back on track. I still feel like l am two years behind and I don’t have a degree because forcing me on a degree and place to study were among the choices that negatively affected my life. I had to quit the college and degree course from Unam to pursue my own desires midstream.”

Siakobva further argues that children should choose their own paths of life and be left to deal with the consequences of their choices since it’s their own lives. Otherwise, one risks becoming a square peg in a round hole when they take up careers divorced from their talents.

And Nakaleya Iyambo, who describes himself as a successful entrepreneur in Oshikango, says that parents should trust their children to make prudent career decisions but play aisory and guiding roles. “Parents can give aice but most of them set standards that are too high for their children, and compare them to their friends and relatives’ children who have successful careers.” He says that having a high-flying career if you don’t enjoy it means nothing, contrary to what many parents believe. “If a parent disagrees with the child’s choice, it won’t hurt to talk to a teacher at their school, a career counselor or somebody who has that career to tell its aantages and disaantages”.

Linda Musiyalike, a 22- year- old Unam Engineering student at Ongwediva, says that she is currently suffering from chronic depression because of her parent’s expectations of her. “I feel as though they want me to be so successful and make a lot of money because my older siblings were not as they have mental disabilities. However, I feel I should not be pressured into doing better than what I am doing at college as I am trying almost too hard, which is giving me stress. I am a child of demanding parents and their expectations make me feel like I am drowning,” she says.

Musiyalike adds that she wanted to pursue a business-related course and use it to become a businesswoman but her parents chose a different life for her. “But it doesn’t mean I have killed my dreams. When time comes to be independent, I will make my independent decisions,” she vows

Source : New Era