How Parents Get In The Way of Career Plans

For most of human history, what we did for
a living was decided for us by our families. We would either directly copy what our parents
did, or else we would reverentially accept their suggestions for what we might do. Only
for around the last 200 years have we been choosing jobs for ourselves – and we’re
still at the dawn of learning some of the complexities involved. On the surface, most
families claim to have no interest in their children doing any job in particular. The
standard line is that they simply want us to be happy. But we are not as free as this
sounds. We are always hemmed in by what can be termed ‘family work scripts’, scripts
that guide us – often very subtly but also very heavily – towards certain occupations
and away from others. Part of properly growing up – which may sometimes happen only in
one’s 50s – involves learning to find a way round the scripts we’ve been handed.
At the most benign level, our family work scripts are the result of what our families
understand of the working world. Every family has a range of occupations that it grasps,
because someone has practiced them and in the process brought them within the imaginative
range of other family members. Yet it isn’t just a case that our families might not know
about certain jobs and so cut us off from them. They might also be positively hostile
or suspicious of other jobs. We’re liable to have received many little messages indicating
that certain careers are inferior – and therefore beneath us, dangerous, phoney or
not quite right for our sort of station in life. Whatever lip service might be paid to
gender equality, families are also highly talented at sending out covert messages about
what a ‘real’ man or a ‘real’ woman should honourably do. Yet more darkly, families
may say that they want us to succeed, but would be highly threatened if we did so. A
choice we make might remind someone of one of their failed ambitions. Our success might
make them feel like a failure. We might try to sabotage our chances of winning so as not
to leave a loved one feeling crushed. Often without realising it, we are being heavily
controlled by our families. Controlled not by harsh words but by something far more poignant
and yet far harder to extricate ourselves from: by our ongoing desire to be a good child,
to please those who brought us into this world, by love. Love can control us as much as force
or the law ever did. We are liable to try to be good children not just because we feel
love but because we fear losing love, because we live in dread of being cast out if we were
to dare to what we really want. But here is the good news for timid good children. Parents
very rarely disown their progeny. It certainly seems they might in our imaginations forged
in childhood. But the adult reality is that families are extremely good at threatening
to break apart, but then forgiving one another, and accommodating the most extraordinary challenges
and tests. We can’t know all families, but we can guess that almost anyone could do a
lot more than they think, a lot more that might be a bit ‘bad’ in the eyes of the
elders, and still be forgiven. We owe our parents respect and kindness. We do not owe
them our lives. We should dare, when the pressure has become unbearable, to leave their script
aside. At the School of Life we are constantly developing new products to help us develop emotional intelligence. To learn more, follow the link on your screen now.

100 thoughts on “How Parents Get In The Way of Career Plans”

  1. I started off as a pharmaceutical chemist. Now I'm working in graphic design and I'm working on a novel and 3 comics. Don't let your parents' guidance discourage you. Take it as a suggestion, not as a manual. You'll love them more, and you'll love yourself even better that way

  2. my parents didn't get to receive proper education bc of the environment they grew up in so they pretty just told me to get good grades and do whatever shit I am capable of doing lmao

    naturally, I am choosing physics for now, and I want to work my way into astrophysics

  3. Caribbean parents are enough to make you want to strangle them. They berate instead of encourage, insist that you have lots of friends but are rude to anyone you invite over and when you ask for financial advice they tell you to " just save your money." After all that they wondered why I took a job that had me living all over the country. One guess, guys.

  4. My mother was a absolute control freak, no matter what we said we wanted to do she’d just flat out say “you’re not going to do that!” There was no micro undermining going on at all. She was obsessed with us taking menial government jobs. She ruined my brothers life with it. He answers phones in a police department and he’s so bitter , depressed, and suicidal it’s ridiculous. I’m glad I didn’t let her do it to me

  5. I needed to hear this… thank you! Going to go and do my dream job and live my life. My dad had 65 years to make his dreams a reality and his still trying to live it through his kids. He and his expectations can drink duck semen… I'm going to live the life I want, and on my terms. I don't care if I have to do it alone!

  6. Hits home for me. Always wanted to be a lawyer for a long as I know. I belong to a country where lawyers are not wealthy, only a small percentage of lawyers really make it. My parents knew this and systematically made me take up engineering. Today they claim they didn't force me, but I can't forget how they felt about me doing engineering… All the emotional manipulation – "you're my daughter, you're exactly like me. I free engineering, so will you!….. You're not shooting all in science? Aaah! You bring shame to our family! How can you not like science, it's the only real stream…."

    I eventually started believing, that the reason I don't like science is because I'm lazy and something is wrong with me.

    Today I'm a lawyer working for a big firm.

  7. The advice your parents give you is that: an advice! Fortunately, there are parents who are not that old-fashioned, and they just give their opinions, first because they know us well (sometimes even more than us when we are younger), and second, because they try to help with their experience. Un <urra> para eso padres!!

  8. I'm thinking of showing this video to my 9 year old. Does anyone see an issue with that and if so why? I don't want him to feel as tho he owes me his life, I want him to succeed and do better in life than I did. His success should feel like mine.

  9. When I was around 12 I wanted to study graphic desing, all my familly had something to say about my future. My uncle insisted to not study that, he said that he wouldnt suport me (economically) if I choose that, so I didn't. When I was 18 I went to study Computers Systen engineering, I grew acostum to stress and then after 4 years I developed anxiety and realiced that wasn't for me. So now I'm here, an "old" young adult dropout, being presured by my familly and trying to find my "real calling". BTW that uncle never so much payed for a pencil… My advice? Know your self, if you like a lot of stuff try to include them in your life, not everything will come out of your career and your familly loves you, but is your life, so don't listen to them at all.

  10. "Our success makes them feel like a failure."
    I couldn't disagree more, parents are the only people who want you to do better than they did.

  11. This is very true.
    It's not just parents but also peer pressure from other family members and friends to pursue the obligatory Lawyer/Doctor career path.

  12. Parents who impose career paths onto their children are more concerned about reputation for the sake of impressing strangers than happiness.

  13. this should also be paired with adams ruin everything video of how you are not going to start the next facebook by dropping out of college.

  14. Well. This video is 2 years too late. I'm on my way to becoming a doctor while I wished to be an astronomer. Cant fuckn turn back now. All because my Asian family wanted a doctor to brag about. And yes, also because my dad couldn't be one. Additionally, they said "it's the perfect profession for a GIRL" but physics and engineering isn't. Sighs

  15. That thing where you wanna do something your parents may never approve of that you've been wishing your whole life to do but then your parents die within a short span of time. But you still need support and the only living family you have left are against you're wish because it's gonna disrupt the cashflow of your entire lives. So, you're scared of things that might happen for that but don't care if everyone all died at the same time too or you still follow that dream of yours and consider to killing yourself within a few months that job just so it becomes a compromise for following your dreams and not being an investment any longer without getting a job? Yeah, Im like that thing rn.

  16. that's why I'm called "problematic" and "selfish"in my family; because I listen TO MY DESIRED, MY WISHES AND MY HEART. HA-Ha those mofon ain't gonna controll this one. I became tottaly independent (in speaking of my mindset) with only 16 years. With a lot of readinf and life coaching via YT and IG. They started noticing me being more and more successful and becoming jelly af, especially my mom who got rejected in the arts airea. I knew everything why it was going on but I didn't allow them to stop me. I took a break of a 9 months because of collage, but boy oh boy – this bitch is ready go get back on track and fighting for my freedom and happyness. I recomend everyone the same.

  17. This applies to more than just careers. Our parents may say things about the friends we should have, the person we should marry, how to conduct ourselves (be a man, be a good wife, etc.), and these suggestions whether forceful or implied can be highly damaging.

  18. If you have a parent who is impossible to please, the most important thing is to realise and accept this fact as early as possible in life. Because this is the insight that will give you your freedom back! For example, even if I won the Nobel Prize, my mother would still say that it means nothing and call me a sinner who will burn in hell forever. Well, it is not very kind of her indeed, but on the other hand, where there is cruelty, there is also clarity for you: since there is no love to gain, you can feel free to do anything you want with your life. I mean you can feel " as free as your subconsciousness allows you to be", which is still something.

    Personally I would find it much harder to deal with a lunatic parent who loves you one day and punishes you the next. In that case you will never be able to properly lose your hope which can be very unfortunate. I have seen in a German documentary that the greatest misfortune of people who are addicted to gambling is having won once! Just once. So they always keep hoping for that one moment of happiness to come back, and they are willing to put everything they have on the table for this. How sad…

    But of course there are also the kind of parents who aren't actively malicious or abusive, who seriously want the best for their children, but still do a lot of things wrong.

    The kind of parent that Philip Larkin talks about in his poem " This be the verse". It begins like this:

    "They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
    They may not mean to, but they do.
    They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you"

    In that case you have a reason to assume that after some years, things may be alright. There will be a hard time when you rebel against their plans for you, but ultimately, since they are ( hopefully ) loving people, they won't turn away from you.

    I remembered a very beautiful example of this: the story of Matthieu Ricard who is a molecular biologist- monk, and his father Jean Francois Revel who was a very famous French philosopher.

    Matthieu Ricard received his PhD in molecular genetics from the Pasteur Institute where he worked with a Nobel Laureate. So he was on a very promising career path as a scientist. But then he changed his mind and decided to study Tibetan Budhism and live in the Himalayas! He says, he heard from other people that his father literally cried when he heard his son's decision. He was terribly disappointed. But after some years, seeing him flourishing in his own way, he became a proud father again and they even wrote a wonderful book together. It is called "The Monk and The Philosopher".

    Thank you very much as always, for this very helpful lesson!

  19. have enough inner strength and personality to not let family dissolve your being into whatever they're projecting on you. Always stay true to yourselves and to the path your soul urges you to follow

  20. This may be irrelevant but my parents moved me away from my old school and now I’m depressed (I️ moved two years ago), since then I’ve lost hope in anything I’ve ever dreamed to be. i don’t have a reason to wake up in the morning because every day i realize that there’s no point in succeeding in school because nothing will ever be the same. Sorry if this sounds like it had nothing to do with the topic of the video i just don’t have anyone to talk to lol

  21. my parents are designers and my mom would love for me to go to art school but that's really not what i want! i think it's ironic that my parents are pressuring me to go to an art school when usually that's the last thing a parent wants for their child (i'd rather study philosophy, but it has a bad reputation in my family as my uncle has a major in philosophy but is rather moody and selfish)

  22. Some people really need to hear this! I still remember how I heard my share of "you'll fail" and now the supposed failure is what most of my success is built upon

  23. I'm a freshman in college now, studying chemistry because I listened to my parents too much. I was at a chem competition in high school and did quite well so I thought about studying it (as one of the options). My other choice was geology as I like being outside and am very interested in Earth and processes which shaped it. Now I regret not choosing it and would like to change college. However, when I told my mom that, she told me geology was not a profession for me, that I wouldn't be able handle field work etc. because I'm physically quite weak and a bit clumsy. I disagree and have recently started walking to college (about 45 minutes from home, on a hill over the town) to get in a bit better shape for next year. I'm even considering quitting smoking to have more endurance for the field work. That shows how willing I am to change myself to be better at what I want to do. The thing that stands between me and geology are my parents, though, who made it clear what they expect of me and that is graduating in chemistry because "geology is too easy and a waste of my potential". But what's the point in doing something you're good at if you don't like it?
    Also, my grandparents studied chemistry and had very good careers. On the other hand, my aunt studied geophysics and has never worked in her field so perhaps that makes them force me to study chemistry. My mom is a nurse and my dad dropped out of college after a year and finished technical school.

  24. Childrens have their own circumstances, so do parents. Yesterday i stood up for myself against my ambitious parents and forced them to listen to my explanation. They finally opened their mind and slowly accepted my perspective.
    Sometimes we only need courage to say what we need to say and a good communication to open their mind. Easier to say, but, i’ve been trying for a decade and i finally made it.

  25. You are apparently unaware of how toxic abusive parents can be. Anyone who has been actively sabotaged by their parents, even into their adult lives, might find this video extremely frustrating and isolating. Many parents who were physically and/or psychologically abusive to their children want them to fail as adults to justify their abuse. The child was "difficult," or just "a bad apple," which justifies their behavior.

    It is not for the abused to seek forgiveness and "acceptance" by a toxic family. Attempting to do so just brings more hurt. There are circumstances – and only the object of the abuse has the right to say when those circumstances apply – in which having no contact whatsoever with people who would take satisfaction from seeing them fail is the only reasonable course of action. To imply that those who haven't been able to create a healthy relationship with people who wish them harm have failed somehow is terrible advice.

  26. So relieved that some people don't grow up until their 50s. I'm about to be 41, and most of the time I feel like I don't know what the hell I'm doing.

  27. IMHO one of the most important lessons for parents is to realize their children are life going on. Your child/children are not necessarily going to share your beliefs, values, goals, etc. Exposing your children to sports, music, art, religion, politics, farming, home maintenance, automotive, or your business, job, career, etc is different from expecting them to have interest in them. Recognizing the difference between encouraging them when they're frustrated while learning and allowing them to make their own decisions (to develop responsibility for them) is a parental judgement call. It's a benefit of developing communication with them.

  28. Alright. I have to set some things right here. For all those who are complaining of being Asian and parents not allowing us to do what we want, just stop. What you want to do in life is not your parent's desire. Even if you are young and restrictions are placed, trust me. Its every easy to secretly do what you want. I am Indian, but my parents are not the stereotypical image being painted by some people here. Even most of the people whom I know have lenient parents. So, my kind request is to get a grip on your own life, work hard, and let your success teach your parents or family a lesson if they are against you, and not blame your parents on your lack of success and direction. After all, trust me. They want the best for you. The internet is an excellent tool we all have. Let's utilize it properly. In case you think you're alone, try to find a companion in whatever you want to do if you want, as it can sometimes be very helpful if you're not fully independent. It also does help to learn how to communicate confidently and dominantly without sounding like a confused weakling when you know you're not. Best of luck for your prospects to everyone reading this.

  29. My mother always belittled my successes and compared them to her's, or at least what she considered to be a success, so that whatever I did was meager and unimportant. She had me when she was 18 and always made it clear that she'd missed out on life and was trying to catch up. At least until I began to outperform her when she was my age (e.g. high school, early collage years). And I don't mean just grades, I mean as a human being – I'm kinder, friendlier and less manipulative as she is or ever was at that age. Also, I was smarter when it came to boys and relationships, more restraint. A quality I absorbed from my grandmother, which infuriated my mother even more. So it worsened – I was made to understand that my accomplishments and relationships were inferior to whatever she attempted. This put me in a constant state of feeling worthless, as if I had no place in the world. I suffered for a long time silently, because I was being constantly told ''She is your mother, you must respect her" or ''No one chooses their parents, you have to be nice to her''. This accumulated a lot of pain over years and drove me to some deep depressive and suicidal thoughts. I snapped finally a couple of years ago and our fallout begun until June of 2016 when I 'set aside the script' she set me on with a sharp 'cut'. It left a scar – it is my longing for her to be MY mother figure, which she could never be. It's a price I gladly pay for my freedom.

  30. Join the School of Life community for a chat and download our free app from the IOS store here.

  31. This video and post are of immense, personal importance to me. Thank you so much for shining light into a sinking puddle of familial abyss. 🙂

  32. I have this kind of parents who are really against my choice of studying literature in university. Then they started to say that there is much better choice like science or mathematics (my parents are asians btw, i’m asian lol) and they can’t see the points of learning things that for them hv no ‘benefits’

  33. My relatives have an incredibly toxic work script. They'd like me to succeed in their own limited understanding of success, but not the way I want. Thanks for giving me the hope for the family reunion, though.

  34. this and other stuff makes me think families shouldn't exist, children shouldn't be raised their parents, it seems everything that damages them is donde by families during childhood or teenage years.

  35. In 2018, I agree with the opinion that people are trying to pursue careers other than their parents. But we are also trying to figure alternatives to Capitalism. But I think that there are still children who grew up in religous households and are denied and shunned for being GLBTQA or for whatever reason. I am more lenient to the idea of multi-parented households.

  36. Well, I'm sorry to be pessimistic, but parents do disown their children much more often than this video would suggest. However, you should still do what you want, and exactly for this same reason.

  37. My parent's thinl school is the only way and i can't become a huge success in being an entrepreneur, school is useful for the basics of speech and making friends but not leading about how to control ur mind and feelings such as anxiety and depression grd10 should be the last grade ever

  38. Most parents DO NOT REALLY want what is the best for you. They don't even know what is, was and will be the best for THEMSELVES! But the do surely WANT SOMETHING or A LOT FROM YOU. They want you to do what they feel it is going to give THEM to most benefits, meaning how they will feel with your life at best and in many occasions how they will get the most from you. All this varies, some want to feel PROUD, so they pressure you to study something THEY wanted to study, if it matches who you are ain't matter, they will secretly feel envious, but hey it will give them other benefits, like going around saying what a great doctor, architect, lawyer, etc you are and how much money you earn and what a great company you work in and what a big house you have, etc and etc. But that is not all, most of them enjoy humilliating you and punishing you for achieving exactly what they seemed to be proud of, it can be cover or overt, like reminding you what they did for you, how much they work for you to have this or that, or how much they helped you, etc. No matter what, what you've achieved as a good idiot, it's great for parents to beat you up emotionally shoving on your face how much you own them your life and secretly punishing you because they hate you because they are not the ones who could achieved that. If you fail at it, then even better, it serves all purposes, specially if some other brother or cousin has had success, then you are always the loser, easy to beat up and make feel like crap for not achieving those miserable" best plans for your life". Then if you are somehow independant and were able to make your own choices, then you will be ignored, or what you have achieved will be minimized, never mentioned. If you are a doctor and they needed a doctor, they will run the some other doctor who is really "great". If you are a teacher, they will lament how stupid teachers actually are, if you are a lawyer, they will bash at how "other" lawyers are crap people,etc and etc. All this if you are somehow lucky, because some of them will simply care about their lives and raise with the same care one raise an unwanted pest or animal, like a rat or like a sick chicken. Other parents will raise you carefully, like one carefully fattens an animal that will be sold or slaughter, the fatter, the better. Other make train their children like horses, enslave them, later on in life, they can never get free, they are always running behind their parents, taking care of them financially, emotionally, physically, etc. Their plan worked out: to train you to take care of them later on. What is even worse is the kind of parents who have children because they themselves had a MISERABLE PARENTS AND NEVER REALLY MATURED and now they make children to PARENT THEM, the CHILDREN ARE THERE TO BE THE MOTHER AND FATHER OF THE parent, the child fills huge emotional holes, the child learns quit quickly that the responsible one at home is the child, the adult at home is the child and not the parents. Parents suck their children's blood and life and that is the only reason why they had them in the first place. If they were to invet thousands of dollars with the promise that their children will get to BE THEMSELVES and NOT AN EXTENTION of the parents, wit the promise that the children will GET THEIR LIVES and be INDEPENDANT, with the promise that their children will be there for a few years and then take wings and fly away and not serve the parents emotionally, financially, etc but that each parent will have to LEARN to LIVE THEIR OWN LIVES AS INDEPENDENT ADULTS TILL THE END, well then ALMOST NO ONE WOULD EVER THINK OR WISH OR HAVE INDEED CHILDREN!!!! because most humans wat to actually GET from children and have not understood that having children mostly means: ONLY TO GIVE AND GIVE AND LET GO.

  39. I’m kinda stuck in this situation. My parents want me to be an architect but I feel so unfulfilled with this major. I’m still figuring out what I’d rather be doing, but I know it’s not this. I think I want to be a language interpreter instead. But it seems like money is better than happiness with them.

  40. I would like to be a Paramedic but my parents say it pays too little…
    The pay is the satisfaction of helping people.

    I knoe I can
    I know I can
    Be whatever my parents want to be!
    If I work like they want me too, I get where they want me to be!

  41. Here is what my mom always told me: "If you find something that you love, then go for it! But always have another backup job that you can make good money with, because that's how our world works."

  42. You can do what you want…the problem is in most of time we want some kind of entertainment.

    Our parents don't see clearly…or see just the near environment or the family legacy.

    The key…is see the family points, the region market, the future projections and how difficult is to do what you want.
    Easy jobs are low pay jobs…because everyone can do the same as you.

    The network of your family can help you believe me.

    P.s. I'm HR manager.

  43. I've a career in sales but forced to quit by family and friends. Now I worked at pizza hut which salary is way lower than my job in sales and hurting me financially(car, student loan and etc) and psychically(I suffers shoulder and back injuries which led me to chose to work on sales at the beginning) but my family said, "it's okay cause it's normal". They killed my spirit and almost ruined my relationship with them.

  44. So damn true. If I say I want to be a welder, electrician or ac repairmen, my parents are all supportive. When I bring up my interest in business, real estate, or anything else more in line with my passions “oh I’ll tell ya why that’s a bad choice” or try to down talk the career choice. Not really supportive imo, it’s annoying

  45. I'm a fresh grad. I want to work in an organization that I think best suited for me but my parents want another career for me. They say it depends on me and I can do whatever I like but deep down I know they want me to take the career they want so I can be just like my cousins. I never wanted to be like them because I don't want to be compared with others. I want to do the things that less taken.

  46. I was one day like when I grow up I want to become a singer. But then my mom said your going to become a tennis player! Then one day my mom asked me what I wanted to become when I grew up and I said, a singer. But then my mom was like No! You will become an actor!

  47. Thank you so much for this. I had a hunch about this sort of thing, now that you guys have put it in words, it makes the whole picture easier for me to see. Really appreciate this.

  48. Even I fight with my parents every now and then I still have a big problem called school that makes me torture and makes me wonder why I even go there?

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