By Maria Famakinwa
Oludare Adeniyi, a 28-year-old graduate of Computer Science, had always longed to study Banking and Finance, but his father, a computer scientist, mounted pressure on him to study Computer Science which he reluctantly accepted. Four years after his graduation, Adeniyi is still regretting not being able to study his preferred course because of his father’s interference. Though working with a private firm, Adeniyi thinks he would have gone far if allowed to go for his dream course, banking and finance.
Also, Omodara Abisola, 22-year-old, blamed her inability to secure admission last year on her parents’ decision to force her to study Law against Psychology, her dream course. The lady who said that she later gained admission this year after her teacher advised her parents to allow her go for her preferred course lamented that her parents made her waste a year doing nothing at home.
Parental perception plays a vital role in the life of children, including their academic; professional and personal lives. Parental influence plays a dynamic role in children’s education, with respect to academic performance, vocation choice and may eventually change the decision of their children towards career choice.
Victor Anthony, a 25-year-old graduate also shared the role his parents played in his career choice. “He said, “When I was in secondary school, I wanted to go to arts class but my dad stood against it. He believed art classes were for unserious students and my mother often reminded me that the sciences would provide better opportunities for me. So I took to my parents’ advice.
“As a science student, it was quite challenging to learn subjects like chemistry and physics. They looked too abstract for me, but I had to trudge along, and the inexplicable thing was, I ended up passing them. I merely studied them just to pass my examinations. But getting into the university and being made to study engineering was another hurdle for me. I just didn’t fit in. There have been instances where my colleagues told me I would have been better off studying theatre arts because that is where my passion lies. Though I am a graduate, I don’t like what I came out with. I will still pursue another degree in an art course for me to achieve my dream,” he said.
Parents serve as a major influence in their children’s career development and career decision- making. Parents want their children to find happiness and success in life, and one factor which influences happiness and success is career choice.
Findings revealed that most Nigerian parents are not happy when their children refuse to study professional courses such as law, medicine, banking and finance, computer science among others. As good as guiding one’s children to choose the right courses may sound, experts say it may have negative effects on children’s academic performances, especially when children’s career choice is different from that of their parents. Stakeholders who spoke with The Hope highlighted some negative effects these may have on the children.
A trader and father of three, Mr Innocent Babatunde, maintained that he would not allow his children choose a course without economic relevance. He said, “I will not allow my children to study just any course. They might not see the reality of what is on the ground in this country, but I do. I see how graduates of some courses are roaming about the streets jobless.
“Where are all the industries that were there decades ago? The few ones that employed have relocated outside the country. There are limited jobs out there. Even medicine, law, and engineering graduates are not finding it easy in the job market, so I will not allow my children choose just any course by themselves. I desire good future for them and myself and I must play active roles in the courses they want to study. Nowadays, tech jobs are lucrative and that is where I will guide them towards because I want the best for them,” he stated.
Speaking differently, a teacher, Mrs. Omowumi Akerele, noted that the practice of imposing courses on children would not pay off. According to her, when children are given the opportunity to choose their preferred careers, they will excel and develop tools necessary to face and conquer future challenges.
She said, “Parents should not impose courses on their children. It makes children blame them for every failure they encounter in life. I have seen graduates who are frustrated and lacking in self-esteem because their parents made them study courses that turned out not to be helpful.
“The job market has evolved in the past number of years and the professions we think are viable today may not be in years to come. What parents should do when their children are confused about what career choices to make is to work with them to help them discover their interests, or better still speak to an educationist.”
However, a school counsellor, Mrs Oyeyemi Isaac, who also advised parents against forcing their children to do courses outside their interests said that when a child is compelled to follow a career path that he/she does not like, it often deprives the child of personal fulfillment.
Her words: “When a child undertakes a career to please the parents, it may make the child dutiful, but it won’t make him/her successful because it is not possible to fulfill a vision that is not your own. The fact that a child argues a lot and is strong-willed does not mean the child is competent to study law. There are other aspects that should be considered. To pick on just a personality feature of a child and then force that child to follow a career path on that basis robs them of the personal fulfillment and passion that they are supposed to have in that profession.
“It could be that a particular parent didn’t attain a certain career due to some challenges, and they then want a child to live up to that very career path to make up for their own failure. Some parents also choose careers for their children out of pride or sheer ego, they want to use those children to massage their egos. These are negative motives that should be avoided. Parents are supposed to encourage their children to follow their area of interest and careers which they have passion for. Children are individuals and they have their rights as well, but sadly, some parents want to live their lives through their children and by that subvert their children’s wills and personal goals.”