How not to help children make career choices


There are dangers inherent in parents forcing career choices upon their children, writes GBENGA ADENIJI

Thirty-three-year-old Chioma Abuchi (coined name) longed to study in the arts and end up as a thespian.

But the pressure from her father made her to choose Law. After the law school programme, she joined a dance group while observing the one-year mandatory National Youth Service Corp scheme to have a feel of what she desired.

Abuchi said, ‘‘My elder brother is a lawyer. He is doing well in the profession. My father supported him so well and felt we could build a family law empire if his first two children studied Law and collaborated as lawyers. I did not have any passion for Law. My interest was in the arts. My family was aware but felt my interest should be discarded. I had no choice than to obey.’’

She also said she merely trudged on while in school without any interest in the course.

‘‘I work in an antique store now in Rozenstraat, The Netherlands. I only bear the lawyer title. I have never practised Law except during my participation in a moot court session while in school, ’’ she said.

A lecturer in the Department of Psychology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Prof. Toba Elegbeleye, stated that parents should not interfere in their children’s career choices.

He advised parents to allow their children to freely choose what they would want to do, but with strict guidance from them.

He said, ‘‘It is not ideal for parents to make career choices for their children. It is dangerous. But unfortunately, it is the practice in our society. It is a common to see a lawyer-father or a doctor-father who will want his children to follow in his career path.’’

He said a child ought to be allowed to choose a course based on his or her academic potential and competence.

‘‘It is then that the parents can examine all the available courses related to the child’s desired option and guide accordingly. They must endeavour to know the academic capability of the child and encourage him or her. They are not to make career choices for their children,” he said.

Commenting on the development, an educationist, Dr. Azeez Ademola, explained that choosing careers for children by their parents has both positive and negative sides.

The lecturer said naturally, educated parents would want to guide their children in making career choices because they had passed through the stage.

“They are in a better position to do so because they had experienced the stage. At times, parents may want to impose their will on their child. It may work for some children and may not work for others. They should carry the children along. It is important that they know the preferred career of the child before making a decision for him or her,” Ademola stated.

For a parent and education director at Springside Schools, Arepo-Ifo, Ogun State, Mr. Oluwole Adetomiwa, parents would be doing themselves more good by allowing their children to make their career choices themselves.

He noted that there would be loss of interest and psychological imbalance coupled with hatred for the parents if a child was forced to study a course against his or her wish.

Adetomiwa said, ‘‘Everybody has a dream and should be allowed to pursue it. No one should impose his will or desire on another. It is the duty of a parent to guide his or her child in making a career choice. They need not force any career on them.’’

He stressed that some parents imposed certain career choices on their children who did not disobey them but abandoned the paths after completing the programmes to pursue their dreams.

‘‘Parents should try to study the interests and academic capabilities of their children. It is important so they do not create problems for their children and themselves in future,’’ he said.

Also, Elegbeleye stressed that the imposition of a career choice on a child would lead to loss of interest and focus resulting in the child’s inability to make headway in life.

A study published in the journal, Public Library of Science ONE and carried out at Utrecht University in The Netherlands, revealed that the more a mother or father saw of themselves in their child, the more they likely want them to live their own unrequited ambitions.

The research stated that, “Parents may derive pleasure and meaning from parenthood by vicariously resolving their unfulfilled ambitions through their children.”

The research noted that such parents could most likely want their children to achieve the dreams they were unable to achieve themselves.

On his part, a lecturer at the Federal University Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Dr. Paul Onanuga, urged parents not to influence their children’s career choices, adding that such action would only turn them to academic misfits and eventually lead to frustration.

Onanuga said, ‘‘The decision of making a career choice really should lie with the children. However, parents must play advisory roles. All children have desired dreams and interests. Parents know the academic strength of their wards and should guide them accordingly. Being objective and pragmatic should be central while advising them.’’

He added that parents should avoid making their children fulfill their preferred inclinations and placing them in an unnecessary competition with children having differing interests and abilities.

A professor of International Law at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Agu Gab Agu, shared similar views with Onanuga.

Agwu said parents should guide their children on the career paths to chose rather than making them choose certain courses targeted at massaging their ego or in sync with a family tradition.

Agu, also the Director, ESUT School of Professional and Legal Education, further advised parents to make career decisions for their children only based on their academic strengths and desires.

He further said making a career choice should be taken as an important aspect in a person’s life.

He said, “If a child argues a lot and he is stubborn, it does not mean the child is competent to study law. There are other aspects that should be considered. The logicality and calmness of the child in presenting issues are vital. That is why there are career counsellors in schools to guide pupils. A child that is forced to follow a career path he or she does not like will not be excited. He or she will end up feeling unhappy later in life.’’

Popular film-maker, Mr. Wale Fanu, told SUNDAY PUNCH that he cannot force his children to follow in his career path.

According to him, if a child is forced to make a particular career choice, “the father or mother will bear a heavy burden if things do not work well for the child in future.”

The movie producer also said many children are now knowledgeable about university requirements for their choice disciplines to the extent that they only inform their parents of their decisions after securing admission.

“Many children nowadays know what their parents do not know. I do not think it will be advisable for any parent to force his child to make a particular career choice. It is dangerous to do so. Some parents feel that because they are successful in a career, their children should go in same path. Some are lucky but it is not usually that way,’’ Fanu said.

He also noted that with the change in global trends, parents should allow their children choose the way to go academically but with immense guidance and support from them.

Famous quote

No man can succeed in a line of endeavour which he does not like — American author, Napoleon Hill

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