By Sabrina Almeida
Parents’ line of work has always influenced their kid’s choice of career in one way or another. Whether it is inspiring them to choose the same field or motivating them to run in another direction, there is no denying their sway.
In a study done by the National Citizen Service (a British voluntary personal and social development programme for 15 to 17 year olds) which polled 3,600 people spanning six generations, 46% admitted to their parents being the biggest influence on career choices. It also found that while the teenagers polled were more likely to want to follow their parents’ profession than previous generations, they were more ambitious as well.
However, a recent Facebook survey of around 5.6 million parent-child pairs from English-speaking locales concluded that a vast majority don’t end up following the same profession. Even when kids express strong interest or consciously set out to follow mum or dad’s lead. A finding that has been corroborated by most studies on the subject.
In fact, the data polled by Facebook showed twins had a higher tendency to select the same occupation (24.7%) when compared to the parent-child combination.
The only exception was administrative positions–20% of daughters whose mothers worked in office and administrative support chose the same career. This was twice the usual rate.
The popular social site attempted to do a father-son and mother-daughter matchup based on information in member profiles to map the probability of children following in their parents’ footsteps. Of course, the study was limited by the fact that not all users include their profession in the profile.
But this continuing trend might have parents who do not want their children to adopt the same profession breathing a huge sigh of relief.
Interestingly, outside of a family business, several mums and dads encourage their kids to pursue a different stream altogether. One that they perceive to be more rewarding than their own. Having experienced the occupational side effects first hand, they would rather not subject their children to it.
One South Asian father was determined that his two sons should not take up a career in sales and marketing. Having chased targets most of his life, he believed they should choose a less stressful profession.
Another did not want his kids to pursue computer engineering which in his experience involved long working hours and continual upgrades to avoid becoming redundant. He also believed that with supply being more than demand and the growing preference for offshoring, there was no job security.
A third went to great lengths to thwart any attempt his daughter made to follow his accounting profession. He didn’t want her to bury her life in the books. It was too boring!
Many teenagers I talked to were not inclined to following either parent. Especially when they saw mum or dad work long hours or appear disgruntled.
In one situation, it impacted the daughter’s choice of spouse. She was determined not to marry a sailor like her dad because she saw how lonely her mum had been for most of her life. She also did not want to raise the kids alone.
A few business owners I know are also finding it hard to accept that their kids have no interest or intention of managing the family enterprise. The children have opted for totally unrelated streams of study.
The few kids that did keep the door open to the family profession or business did so because they believed their parents could give them a leg up. With actors and politicians being the most likely to have their kids follow in their footsteps even though parents claimed to be against it.
I guess the adage—like father, like son or like mother, like daughter doesn’t apply to professions. What then! – CINEWS