Often parents end up dictating our present in attempts to create a safe future, making us question what choice should you, as a child, make then?
Board exams are not just an examination for the students but also for their parents. Children and parents both feel the stress and anxiety. After crossing that phase, you realise how hyped these exams were but how real they felt when writing them. I remember looking back how my mother had become my one true support system and my dad took responsibility to get me whatever it was that I needed. This is how invested parents get at such a stage in our lives.
Education is important and a backbone of our futures. The strong emotions felt by our parents over this can often translate into over-protectiveness where they begin to dictate certain aspects of our course or subjects. I have heard of several instances of parents asking their children to leave Humanities for Science, to compromise on their course for a better college, to follow the mainstream than to do something risky.
The last part of that sentence becomes important, on speaking to my mother about the same she said, “Parents speak from their experiences. We are comfortable with what we know, unchartered waters arise fear and we begin to hold on too hard to our loved ones.” While times have changed parents often speak from an outdated perspective, where Engineering, MBBS or MBAs were seen as better courses by the society and created more successful individuals. There were ideas of a ‘set’ life and we can sense our folks often trying to mould us into it. Bournvita, in its initiative #lookbeyondmarks, touches upon this idea how not everyone fits in the same large sized, black t-shirt, yet parents attach the same expectations from every child.
On telling my friends or cousins how I’m pursuing an Undergraduate Degree in Psychology, did I realise how lucky I was, to be able to study a subject of my choice. While my grandfather’s reaction was, “Beta, koi professional course lele. Haye, Law kyu nahi karti?” (why not study a professional course, such as Law), endless number of people have mentioned how they were not allowed to study subjects like Psychology, Bachelor of Management Studies, International Relations, or at a younger level Arts, because of their parents.
Prakhar Rathi, a student of Computer Science comments, “While ideas like ‘go pursue your passion’ sound great, my decision of which course to study was not just mine but an amalgamation of what I liked, what my parents liked, what was expected out of me and the pressure of not disappointing them. All this led to me selecting a course I somewhat liked but mainly checked all the boxes.”
Newer courses have now come up, with the aim to allow students to study what inspires them, subjects like BMS, Anthropology, Forensic Sciences, Ecopsychology and many more that can cater to such unique interests. But for some parents this desire often leads to them guiding their children down a path which they feel is best or which allows them to live their dreams through their children.
But making this a more realistic perspective, while the horizon of opportunities has broadened, and specialised courses are on a rise, not every course guarantees a job with a big package and a good life. This is where a parent’s perspective stems from. But the debate is about who defines what a “good life” is. A typical Indian parent’s response will be that these ideas only exist in films. But what is the value of that degree when it feels like suffocating, what is the value of the job it gives when you are only going to hate it or leave it, what is the value of those years when you will only regret them.
However, there can be a flip side to this where the outcomes might not be as harsh as they seem in those moments. Deepen Gondolay, a student of B.Com remarks, “It started out when I wanted to take Humanities and they made me take Commerce. Later, when I wanted to pursue BBA, I was pushed into staying here and doing B.Com, even when it wasn’t an ideal course. I don’t regret it too much because what I want to pursue as a career aligns with commerce itself.”
Not everyone meets the same fate, some slave studying subjects they do not have the aptitude or interest for. Not all of us have the liberty to negotiate and to those I can only say we cannot predict or control how our future will turnout, even after an IIT-Delhi and IIM-Ahmedabad one could turn out to be a writer, while what kind of a writer is debateable. Either way life resulting in happiness will not indicate how parents are always right and unhappiness will only lead to resentment.
It is a tug of war between generations, opinions and risks between your parents’ choice and your choice.
Image credits: Rediffmail