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Academic Conflict Between Parent and Child

The days of continuing the family profession for generations have long become a thing of the past. Still, there are certain occupations like medicine, business, art related professions like acting, music, dance etc., where people expect the next generation to follow the same path set up by their parents. The expectations and thereby the pressure, increases if the parents happen to be well established and have a good reputation in their fields. Sometimes the children take to their parents’ profession easily like fish in water, and sometimes there is conflict. This article is mainly about the conflict situation.

Conflicts arise in two types of situations-
1. Parents and child desire the same subject but the child fails to attain enough marks, required to get admission in that subject.
2. Desires and liking of parents and student differ.

The end of class X, after which the students have to opt for different subjects is a period of great anxiety for many parents and students. The subjects they opt in class XI, forms the most important base for their future career. A commerce student cannot go for science in college if he so desires at some later stage. Or a humanities student cannot study agriculture, if at some later stage she desires to pursue agriculture, for her love for plants. So it is once in a lifetime choice!

Parents’ perspective
We all keep reading and listening to advices like, do not pressurize the child, let her choose whatever she wants etc. To some extent we do tell ourselves that we will be ideal parents and will never pressurize the child in any way, when the child begins formal schooling. But as the child reaches higher classes, say class VI or VII, slowly and unknowingly our personal aspirations start growing, about what we want our children to do. Sometimes we keep those desires to ourselves and happily agree to what the child chooses; sometimes we tell them what we wish and try to make the child see reason, or try in some direct or indirect way to get the child interested in that field. Another way is to simply force the child to take up the subject. Their can be another situation where all the above can play together! I’ll give a real example here-

‘Both parents are doctors. Their daughter has been good in studies and quite smart from childhood. All the relatives and acquaintances took it for granted that the daughter will naturally opt medicine. No one ever bothered to ask her. In their hearts parents too wanted the same. The general expectations around, only made them want it more. Unfortunately, the girl could not score enough to get admission in science in her school. Her parents decided to get her in another school where she could take science. She agreed. But within a few days in the new school and new subject, she was back to her old school studying humanities, the subject she actually always wanted.

It was an emotional struggle for both- the girl as well as the parents. Both had to fight with themselves. Parents were disappointed, but being educated and aware enough, they cannot force their only daughter to take up something that she does not like and may detest it all her life. For quite some time they found it difficult to hide their disappointment whenever people questioned. Gradually they have come to terms with the reality and now helping their daughter to do her best in the field of her liking.

It is mostly the people outside the close family who make life difficult for us. As parents we are well aware of our children’s desires and our priority is to see them happy. The daughter opting for a subject other than theirs’ may not have been such a big issue for the parents, but social expectations blinded them, even when they knew their daughter’s likings. They only increased the emotional turmoil of their child!

It is better to take it sportingly. Do not question the child’s choice; instead try to search and look out for the various career options available in the field your child has chosen. When people do question you, simply answer- ‘Yes, we did want her to be so and so, but let her blossom in whichever field she likes and be happy!’ Children will always pay back with respect and gratitude!

The student’s perspective
Children who are nearing class X are not innocent fools. They have already long been analyzing their interests, discussing with friends and elders, reading about different careers and forming a picture of themselves in the future. By class X they are well aware of their likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. They may in fact be more knowledgeable than us about the various types of career options available now. Unconditional parental support and guidance will help them in shining in the field of their liking.

Children who opt for a career other than that of their parent’s, may not always be the rebellious ones. Children do understand and know the desires of their parents. They too have to fight with themselves regarding disappointing their parents and choosing a field of their own choice. Too much expression of disappointment by the parents makes it difficult for the students. They feel guilty and may reluctantly take up a subject of their parents’ liking and remain unhappy always. The guilt may remain even when they do opt the subject of their own liking. In both cases the child is disturbed and may not perform to her best abilities.

The girl in the above example finally listened to her heart and mustered the confidence to follow it. She simply said- “Its my life after all.” She is a considerate, respectful child and so the parents had to accept. And, isn’t it true that it is after all her life? It is not arrogance, but a truth, for which the girl had to fight within herself for quite sometime, because she genuinely did want to make her parents happy by agreeing to study what her parents wanted !

So as parents, our duty is to help the child recognize his/her interests and potential, advice, suggest options with their advantages and disadvantages and then leave the final decision on her/him. There are innumerable career options in the modern world. Whatever the field, hard work, love and passion for the job will certainly reap rewards.

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