"Daaktars" and "Injineers"

Pakistani parents, it seems, are more concerned about owning kids, than raising them. Nearly all of them agree that their sons and daughters must never be forced into careers of their parents’ choice, but strictly in theory. “Let our kids decide their own paths” just seems like the right thing to say to people, but when it comes to following this rule, parents seldom take it seriously. Nearly all the parents I meet want to turn their sons and daughters into doctors and engineers. When I ask their children if that’s really what they want to be when they grow up, they just mumble a few words of agreement in distinctly apathetic tones.

Kids have their own dreams (surprise, parents!), their own ideas about how to make a living. They may not be the most lucrative of ideas, nor as promising as the ones you have in mind, but their lives belong to them alone and they’ll be far happier knowing that they followed their own dreams, rather than ending up with high-income jobs that they can’t stand.

Parents are obsessed with scores. It’s like the algebra test is a dry run for the child’s entire life, and should he fail that test or get anything less than a 90%, he’s a flawed human being who shall never prosper. Since when did it become a crime to not be an insufferable know-it-all? Are test marks the only measure of a child’s capabilities, or should we look for other things as well? Many of the greatest, most successful personalities in the world today were, at best, average students. Our schools have become veritable gas-chambers where individuality and dreams come to die, and be replaced with herd-mentality. Students are encouraged to think inside the box, instead of helping them explore their unique capabilities and refine them.

Pakistani parents are extremely possessive. In the past, they were known to directly impose their decisions upon their kids, but that technique is rapidly losing effect. Kids are becoming smarter, and when faced with threats from their parents, they’re likely to build up a wall of resistance and stand defiant in face of such fierce opposition.

Now the parents have come up with a more reliable weapon: emotional blackmail. Instead of browbeating their kids, they indoctrinate them their own ideas from the beginning. They set up an environment so emotionally charged that it makes the teenager feel incredibly guilty going against his/her parents’ wishes. They create an illusion of choice for their children while pressurizing them into choosing a specific path.

It’s much like a host offering her guests, “Tea or coffee? By the way, coffee’s poisoned”. Well, that’s not much of a choice, ma’am.

I’m not a parent myself, so I won’t claim to be an expert on parenting. But I went through this aforementioned process of indoctrination, ended up making a career choice I regret to this day, and for the longest time, was not even aware of the fact that I had been very subtly cajoled by my parents into studying medicine against my own will.

Parents, there comes a time when you must learn to let go of your kids, for they become more than your “kids”. They become individuals with their own dreams and aspirations that may not be in tune with yours, but you have to accept that anyway.

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    • Imran Ali
    • November 21st, 2010

    Ohk. That’s somewhat like my life story summarized.

      • farazspeaks
      • November 21st, 2010

      Haha. Et tu, buddy?

  1. Man. I was pressurised the same way. Though in my case it was subtly taking advantage of my indecisiveness about a future career and bundling me into medical school before I knew what was happening (“you got into Aga Khan? How could you turn it down Now for something silly like chemical engineering even though you know you’ll never be as happy as in the former?”). I don’t regret it now, but its been a pastiche of compromise and acceptance and heartbreak and moulding to conventions before i got to this point.

    I swear I’m not going to do that with my own child. Even if he wants to be a gay trombone player for a travelling circus or whatever.

    • hallowedbier
    • March 31st, 2013

    I regret taking on engineering. it makes me miserable to be doing something I have no passion for.

    • I can relate to that.

      Find out what you’re truly passionate about (if you haven’t already). If you’re half-way into engineering, don’t turn away now. Think of it as a stable back-up plan, in case whatever that you truly want to pursue doesn’t work out very well financially.

      In my case, I had very little interest in medicine, but eventually became much intrigued by psychiatry, which is a branch of it. Something like that might happen to you too. Maybe you’ll find something within engineering that interest you.

      If not, then as I said, it’s a safety net.

  1. November 24th, 2010
    Trackback from : kids bill of rights

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