Who do you want your child to be…

Written By: Rabia Nazir

One of my close friends who is a primary school teacher often shares innocent stories of her students as a part of our ‘how was the day?’ routine. A couple of weeks ago, she mentioned that one of the most intelligent students in her class has been missing school for a week and that he is suffering from anxiety and panic attacks! Yes, you read it right…. When parents looked for a reason, it did not take long and it was alarming. The 8 year old boy reluctantly revealed his fear of not stand first in the class this term and the poor soul was stressed over that he would not be able to fulfill his parents’ dream of becoming a doctor.

This is one of those overlooked incidences that are affecting the mental health of school going children. The pressure to be the best student in the class and to meet the expectations of parents is particularly seen in the smarter ones. We can see schools of every bread including government school, public schools, elite schools, and then deeni-dunyawi taleem hybrid schools. Keeping the financial toll aside, it is still quite a challenge for parents to choose which type of school they should send their kids to. And thanks to the craze of becoming doctor/engineer, young minds are being stuffed with the idea that success in life is associated with taking up a certain profession. In today’s blog, I want to probe what are the factors behind choosing a profession for your child;

Influential Standing in the Society:

So almost every Pakistani parent dreams that his child becomes a doctor. In fact, doctor here does not represent a profession but rather a symbolic professional who is intellectually superior, influential, and highly regarded by the society. So taking the above definition a little further we can include engineers, lawyers, financial analysts, and so on. The thing to which most of the parent are acting blind is that every child has his own talents and mind capacity. All they care about is getting appraisals from their social circle by presenting a ‘trophy child’.

Forcing them to study a subject against their free-will in which they are not interested may make them unsatisfied with their lives. I can recollect from childhood memories that many of my friends in school were eager to become a doctor but later could not get into the medical college and ended up becoming a house wives. I do not oppose here becoming a house wife if it is a choice but what I mean is that they lost their motivation so badly that they totally gave up their aspirations for a career.

Financial Incentives:

This factor is considered more important for boys as they are supposed to take up major financial responsibilities. Having earned a degree in engineering, information technology, or accountancy degree implies getting handsome salaries in homeland as well as landing a job in a developed foreign country. This opens up the ventures for making more money and securing a lavish life style. This is the point where most of the personal aspirations and dreams lose the battle.

Finding the perfect match:

Doctor marrying another doctor is no wonder and it is almost true in all of the professions in question. This factor is more important for girls. According to the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) record, 70% of the medical students are females whereas only 23% of registered doctors are females. It adds a considerable financial loss on the part of government funds spent on the subsidized medical education on each student and you can well imagine the number if more 50% of the current medical students choose to sit at home for the rest of their lives. It paints a disappointing picture that a medical degree for many girls is no more than winning a ‘hot ticket’ in match-making market. The dream of ‘doctor daughter-in-law’ has become an obsession among mothers looking for a decent wife for their sons. I will touch this topic in detail in a separate blog.

As matters of fact, it all comes down to our fragile society with its roots knitted in an unhealthy competition in every walk of life. The very similar pressure is trickling down to shape up such a mind-set in young parents where they essentially want their kids to be the best. It not only puts a delicate mind into stress but the child is also more likely to feel isolated and lonely as he feels the competition all the time with other children in the school and even within the family. He might end up having no friends! This discussion brings me to some questions which I would like to put out there for the parents:

  1. Why every child is expected to be the best in studies, sports, and extra-curricular. It is absolutely perfect to inspire and let them thrive to achieve the better and better in life but why standing first in exam or getting into a certain profession is a matter of life and death? We must realize that experiencing failures offer more lessons than successes. It is normal to fail sometimes; coping up with a failure is a learning too.
  • What could be the consequences if you as a parent just let your child choose who he wants to be? Let’s say if he wants to be an artist or a historian or a football player or any unconventional profession, what is wrong with it? In my sanity, career must be chosen, if not fully at least partially, out of personal interests and not from what everyone else expects of your child.

I would leave the stage open with a plea to young parents who have school going kids that please do not burden your children with unrealistic expectations. Schools are not factories to produce future professionals only and you, as a parent, are not here to turn your child into ‘trophy’. Let your child be a happy, healthy, and free soul who could be a valuable addition to the society and humanity.

We really need to evaluate our own values!

(P.S: The content is meant to provoke a positive discussion. Apologies in advance if anyone finds it offensive. I personally do have many doctor friends, both male and female, and they are amazing people one could have in life. )

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