"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.