When a number of pupils are asked what they would like to be when they grow up, many spontaneously mention “a lawyer, an architect, a doctor, a pilot or a professor.” As Joseph Oindo writes, the above “big five” professions – among others – are what a number of parents tell their children to strive to be
Habil Hakimana discovered early that he had a passion for writing when his teachers used to read his compositions in class when he was still in primary school. He was an avid reader of journals, novels and all other kinds of literature and he knew that he was cut out to become a prolific writer.
However, his father had different vision for him. A retired teacher himself, he wanted his son to follow in his footsteps and become a teacher. Thus, when Habil passed his exams, his father advised him to pursue Education at university instead of Journalism, which he was so passionate about. Hakimana’s father told him that he’d not pay his fees unless he followed his command.
So, Hakimana had to go by his father’s wish and study Education in English language. After graduation, Hakimana sat at home for one year. Even though there were teaching offers that came his way, the classroom was the last thing he wanted to spend the rest of his life in.
In the meantime, he used to write articles for a newspaper as a freelancer, which were always published. When the newspaper advertised positions for journalists, Hakimana knew that that was his lucky break. With his writing experience, he was hired as a writer and today, he is doing what he knows best: writing.
Habil’s experience brings to the fore the question of whether parents should make career choices for their children.
When a number of pupils are asked what they would like to be when they grow up, many spontaneously mention “a lawyer, an architect, a doctor, a pilot or a professor.” The above “big five” professions, among a slate of others are what a number of parents tell their children to strive to be.
But does this take into cognizance the child’s natural skills and abilities that he or she can take advantage of and become a useful member of society in future, in a different field far divorced from his or her parent’s prescriptions?
And at what age should parents set their children free to make their own career choices depending on their innate talents?
Jean Pierre Gahima, 25, says that when parents become so overbearing as to choose career paths for their children, they may unwittingly end up crippling their growth and a good prospect for their future.
“Once, when I was still young, I felt sheltered for the first 16 years of my life since my parents used to make decisions for me,” he says.
He adds that his parents forced his hands into two life changing decisions that were in no way theirs to make. “It’s taken me years of hard work to regain and put myself back on track. I still feel like I’m two years behind and I don’t have a degree because forcing on me a degree and place to study were among the choices that negatively affected my life. I had to quit the college and degree course to pursue my own desires midstream”
He argues that children should choose their own paths of life and be left to deal with the consequences of their choices since it’s their own lives. Otherwise, one risks becoming a square peg in a round hole when they take up careers divorced from their talents.
And Emmanuel Rwaka, who describes himself as a successful entrepreneur in Remera, says that parents should trust their children to make prudent career decisions but play advisory and guidance roles.
“Parents can give advice, but most of them set standards that are too high for their children and compare them to their friends and relatives’ children who have successful careers.”
He says that having a high-flying career if you don’t enjoy it means nothing, contrary to what many parents believe. “If a parent disagrees with the child’s choice, it won’t hurt to talk to a teacher at their school, a career counselor or somebody who has that career to tell its advantages and disadvantages.”
Linda Gashagaza, a 22-year-old university student, says that she’s currently suffering from chronic depression because of her parent’s expectations of her.
“I feel as though they want me to be so successful and make a lot of money because my older siblings weren’t, as they have mental disabilities. However, I feel like I shouldn’t be pressured into doing better than what I am doing at school, as I am trying almost too hard, which is giving me stress. I am a child of demanding parents and their expectations make me feel like I’m drowning,” she says.
Gashagaza adds that she wanted to pursue a business-related course and use it to become a businesswoman but her parents chose a different life for her.
“But it doesn’t mean I’ve killed my dreams. When time comes to be independent, I will make my independent decisions,” she vows.
Students speak out on career choice
Ntwali Evans, S. 3, IFAK Secondary school
Parents shouldn’t dictate to their children career choice. My future is all about me and not my parents. They should only support me to realize my dreams in life but shouldn’t force their choices on me. I want to be a musician when I grow up and I can tell you my parents are encouraging me on my choice.
Aumel Ntwali, S.3, IFAK secondary school
I like playing football and I would like to be a coach when my time comes. Sometimes my parents tell me to concentrate on my studies first before I play football but I want to nurture my talents when I am still young. I have discussed with them my dreams and they are not discouraging me. After all, nowadays professional football pays more than the so-called dream careers and it’s time parents know this.
Luc Ingaji, S. 3, I.F.A.K Secondary
I want to become an architect because I like drawing. This is the career I have chosen for myself and when I told my parents about this, they encouraged me to go ahead with my dreams. They are very supportive on my career choice. The parents should leave the children choose their own career paths.