Parenting Lessons; No Copy and Paste for This Generation.
Irrespective of where you were born, some things always remain constant. There is a point where all parents get at loggerheads with their children as a rule of life. I am sure have all been through those stages with different narratives to give either playing the parent or child role.
So, recently I sat chatting with one man who gave me the parental point of view regarding the genesis of these conflicts, especially when most children are in their teens. In a broader sense, it is an issue deeply anchored on generational differences.
In my society, for instance, there has been a long narrative that seems to be accepted as an unspoken rule about the career of parents and how it plays down to their children’s choice of their careers. It is widely accepted that one among the children has to walk down the same career path threaded by the father as a form of ‘ancestral’ appeasement.
It is thus common for a family where the father is a policeman, teacher, doctor, engineer, or even farmer to have a child who takes that exact career path. In the years gone by, the position of the father was held as divinely supreme and one that came with absolute power.
As a norm or practice, the father would decide what career the children would take and that was not a matter of debate. It was final. The parents often pushed their children to be the replica of their youth in terms of behavior, career choice to the way they handled themselves in the context of their own families.
To be honest, most parents desired that their children became a copy-paste of themselves largely driven by the fact that the paths they had walked brought them the success they had attained thus far. And to avoid their children attaining any less successful than theirs, they often pushed them to try and walk the exact path, step by step, as they did.
Interestingly, society then governed by the generational distinctiveness viewed such dictates as very perfect and this form of arrangement succeeded for a long time. But it should be worth noting that back then, access to information was a very big issue.
An example is my village back in the early ‘90s when the family had one radio which was operated by the father only. It was under key and lock most of the time until the father was around and mostly it was for catching up with the rest of the country, not the world, through the news.
It was thus prudent to trust the parents who in this case seemed to have a monopoly of information because of the radio which was a key information tool and secondly since it was only parents who had the power to travel beyond local jurisdiction once in a while and come back with more information about whatever issue of the subject would be trending then.
You can understand why being the replica or copy-paste of parents wouldn’t be a hard thing back in the day. We grew up wanting to be like our fathers and mothers but unfortunately, times changed. Fast forward, this approach would not work for the millennials and generation z’ who were born during the digital technology pioneering period and advanced technology application period respectively.
Access to information is widely open and accessible to everyone today which makes it hard for parents to have a very huge influence on their children, especially in terms of behavior and career choices. Over recent years, the aspect of passion has played a center-stage role in career choice determination for a lot of young people.
It becomes very hard to try and force your child to be a copy-paste of yourself in this era. Most of the time, and to a large extent, these children know what they want to pursue in life. And the conflict spirals out of such discussions more often than not.
Parents were brought up at a time being a doctor, engineer, or law practitioner was the most important career. These were followed by teachers, nurses, and finance professionals with being a farmer looked down upon as the most unfortunate career.
This kind of psychological framework got deeply rooted in some parents, especially those born in the earlier generations such as boomers, and has been used as a reference tool for children to choose those careers irrespective of their individual choices and passion orientations.
Some children agree to these arrangements and never get to practice these careers post their university life unless there was a passion associated with it. Those who understand far too well what they want out of this life rebel and follow their interests.
The lovely thing is that most of them end up doing very well in the fields they choose to pursue their careers in. Digital skills and professions are a hot sale nowadays and most young people are choosing career paths along those lines. For parents, these are unpalatable decisions yet for those who take time to understand their children’s choices and support them, the benefits have been immense.
For those who are parents in this age and era, especially parents of teens on the verge of making important career choices now, understand that the copy-and-paste narrative of our parents may seriously fail you today. Get acquainted with where the world is today and where it is going and support your children along those lines.
If they choose what they love and pursue it successfully, they will end up not ‘working’ a single day in their lives because they will be enjoying doing what they do. If they get forced to do things they don’t have passion for, they will waste their time and maybe not work in those fields. And for those who will end up working, it will be a miserable life for a better part of their lives.
For the children who are yet to figure out their career paths, guide them gently to make the best decisions in this life. Help them find their passions and interests and offer them the best support possible. It will never be in vain.