―Because the world is making such drastic demands upon the coming workers, every thoughtful man and woman, every teacher and reflecting parent, is planning ways to fit the children for the life and needs of this new century. – Meyer Bloomfield, Finding One’s Place in Life
It begins with a simple phrase like, “It’s my dream to see you in a white coat” or “I always dreamt of becoming a pilot, and now you’ll fulfill my unachieved desire”. Seems simple, emotional and full of love. Seems normal. Isn’t it?
Expectations are important, they say, to keep you going. But not always. While expectations may sometime help you push your limits, they also have the potential to make you feel lost and stuck inside a role that you didn’t choose for yourself.
NO ROOM FOR A ROAD LESS TRAVELLED
Stepping into adolescence, children start to weave their career dreams, often looking around their families for role models and inspirations. Most of us grow up idealizing our parents, and some of us don’t. I picked up a pen and started correcting random notebooks because I loved what my teacher did and it seemed like the best thing in the world. It continued till the time, I told my parents that I wanted to study literature and not science. Coming from a family of doctors and engineers, teaching seemed low-profile. I somehow navigated my way through it, and was able to convince my parents as well. Not everyone finds the courage (and sometimes resources) to follow a path that they desire. Sometimes, the notion of right and wrong in terms of career choices, created by parents leaves children in a situation where grabbing what they want seems “unacceptable” as per the family norms, and pleasing the parents mean killing the flame of desire inside you.
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: THE EXPERIENCE COUNTS
Parents do have more experience than children. They have been there and they have done it all. They may as well have tried certain things that did not work for them, and that is the reason why, while guiding their children, they sometimes become adamant about what’s right to do and what’s not. They forget that it’s by trying out multiple things that one figures out what suits them the best. And in some situations, they may not straightaway end up zeroing down to what they want, but they would have a fair idea of what they do not want, may be. Just like their parents did. Parents completely discard off the possibility of a failure thereby putting a huge pressure on children.
A SERIES OF UNATTAINED DREAMS
Pressure could come in any form; it doesn’t necessarily have to be something forcefully imposed upon children. Like I said at the beginning, a little phrase, like “I wish you’d…”, can prove to be fatal. It’s as if a child bears the responsibility of fulfilling the unattained dreams of her parents. Then who will take care of her own dreams? Oh wait, it’ll be her children. And the vicious cycle will continue. 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 counselors, 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.”
THEY DID, WHY CAN’T YOU
Each one of us has a set pace for understanding things, and it’s very important for parents to accept this. If the neighbor’s daughter topped the school in mathematics, it doesn’t mean that I will start pressurizing my own daughter to be like that girl. This is what is happening in the society at the moment, is what is called the ‘thief of joy’ by Theodore Roosevelt : comparison. Most parents do it on a regular basis without even realizing it.