From the dozens of math books I was forced to complete as a child to the requirement of an AP–filled schedule in high school, my parents have played nothing short of a deciding factor in my life’s path. Although my childhood protests against extra math were never-ending and frustrating, my mother never swayed in her steadfast refusal to let me quit. Over time, that determination eventually transferred to my own persona. By high school, my mother never again had to argue with me about how hard I pushed myself – I took care of that on my own. From an early age, whether I liked it or not, my mom always knew exactly what was right for me.
As I prepare to take the next step forward into adulthood, my mom’s role in determining my future again comes to a forefront when I make a major decision that every high school junior seems to be debating: what exactly am I going to do with my life? For most, this question is represented by their choice in a college major. This is where my parents come in. “You can choose any major you like,” my mom joked to me one day. “Just as long as you go to medical or law school after.” While this was more of a lighthearted request than a requirement, my parents have made it clear that my career choice was not one that would be made alone. While I am still granted a certain measure of freedom in determining my major, my parents have mandated that my area of study will be STEM related. However, I don’t see this as an affront to my independence. Allowing parents to set certain parameters for their child’s life should not be seen as a loss of freedom, but rather as an oath of trust and respect.
Although it isn’t always easy to admit, parents often do know best when it comes to making major life decisions. Growing up, I always had a strong desire to become an architect, but both of my parents firmly disapproved, not out of disdain for the profession, but because of the limited job opportunities, difficult schooling, and typically low income in ratio to the required schooling. This final say in my prospective career was not a narrow minded rejection of my dreams, but instead a carefully thought out evaluation of the pros and cons. Instead, my parents advocated a degree in engineering, either structural or architectural, which follows a similar path of education, but provides exponentially greater benefits in the long run. Although I ultimately decided against an engineering major, my parents and I were able to work out a mutually advantageous compromise by working with me instead of against me.
As long as parents do not act as opponents to their child’s career and college major aspirations, but instead cooperate as constructive critics, allowing parents to have a final say in their child’s education or profession benefits both parties.