Two years ago when I told my parents that I would do anything but take the science path in 11th grade, they were ecstatic. I thought this would be the case with most Indian parents. It was a few months later that my friends told me that they were taking the science stream because their parents wanted them to. I was shocked, and a little appalled at hearing this. We claim to be a part of a modern world, yet we’re surrounded by a society with old-fashioned thoughts.
The story in India is very simple: you either become a doctor or an engineer. According to Indian parents, the path to success is determined by the stream you take and the hierarchy is such that the science stream, which comprises physics, chemistry, and math/biology which is right on top, and humanities at the bottom.
This stereotype narrates the backward mindset in the education system, the country, and to an extent, some parents. Of course, we understand that education is very important and that our parents only have our well-being in their minds but sometimes our well-being is better understood by us and what we want, than what they think we want.
A student who might excel at studies might not want to become a scientist or a doctor. For all we know, their futures might lie in gaming, or similar unconventional careers. But a lot of the time the success equation is such that happiness is directly proportional to money. This common misinterpretation is what has caused this rift between parents and their children and it comes down to what we want against what they want.
Sometimes parents don't listen too because they feel the same as Mother Gothel, when she says “Mother knows best”. Constant persistence won't really help because they think that at our age we don't really know what we're capable of and our dreams are lower than our potential. This isn't true of course, because in every parent's eyes their child is an Einstein.
Most of the time, parents don’t want us to repeat the mistakes they made, and so they don’t let the child venture out at all. It’s one thing to prevent children from making mistakes and another to repress them from learning from their mistakes. My father always told me “You can take a horse to the pond, but you cannot force it to drink. Once it gets thirsty, it’ll learn on its own.” Let them learn from their wrongs so that they understand it better. As children grow into teenagers and then to adults, they’re going to make millions of mistakes. They’re going to learn from them eventually, but a lot of parents refuse to let them make mistakes in the first place. It might be out of concern but the only thing it is doing is driving their child farther apart from them.
Freedom of choice
The success rates of a few occupations are quite low, and it is natural for parents to be concerned about the same. However, instead of helping their children understand parents curb their child’s freedom of choice and it gets suffocating for the kid. When one can’t take decisions about their own life, how can they take decisions at all? This affects the child's decision-making abilities and it reflects on their failures in the future. One cannot be too safe and most parents generally curb their child's freedom of choice because of their fear of letting go. The fear of having to see their child stand alone in the big, bad world. It really is hard to let go, but when this reflects on the child and his/her abilities then it isn't a safe thing at all.
Why kids don’t fight back
Firstly, they’re the parents. It isn’t exactly possible to fight with the people who’ve created you and have control over every aspect of your life. Most of the time kids give in to their parents’ wishes but end up holding a grudge for the rest of their lives.
Then there is the ‘they may be right’ mentality. You might give their way a shot and it could end up with you being extremely unhappy with what you do.
Lastly, most kids aren’t given the right to say anything to their parents. In the court of parenting, parents are the judges, the jury, the lawyers and basically the law. Their word is the verdict and there are no bails.------------------------------
I have been a privileged child from a young age because my parents have always let me make my decisions for myself. They have trusted my every move and have been supportive every step of the way. What is regrettable is that I am ‘privileged’. What is supposed to be the birthright of a child becomes a life controlled by his parents. Family is supposed to stand by your every decision and not deplore the choices you make. I was and still am dismayed at the stories that I hear about children being forced into so many things due to parental pressure. A lot of the time children’s realities are defined by their parents’ expectations.
A lot of my peers are stuck in this battle between their expectations, their parents’ expectations and the reality. Some aren’t even on talking terms with their family! It is honestly calamitous how misapprehensions can cause such drastic events in a family.
If you're a teenager feeling claustrophobic mentally, because you feel your parents do not give you your right to freedom of choice, then sit down and explain it to them rationally. Tell them that you will excel in what you do but for that you need to be able to give it a try. Fighting with your parents, hating them and so on isn’t going to do both parties any good. Take the harder, more time-taking route and sit with them one evening and have a talk. About your future, YOUR plans and not theirs and attempt to dissolve the misunderstandings that have clouded their judgments and yours. Communicate to them what you feel is right for your future.
“Speak to your children like they're the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and most magical humans on earth. For what they believe in is what they become.”
Your parents want what’s best for you, and if you tell them that your happiness and satisfaction with life matters more than money or success then I’m sure they will understand. They do love you and in the end, that to them, is what matters.