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Why you shouldn’t choose your childrens’ careers

Obvious police right? Except.. in many families it is not.

My friend is the perfect example of this. Her parents owned a business that made pretty decent money, but was located in a smaller city (not urban at all), and in an industry that is pretty boring (medical supplies).

Since she was a kid, she had been dreaming of becoming a veterinarian or a marine biologist because she really loved working with animals.

Her parents basically vetoed the entire proposition and told her:

We are paying for your education (tuition, room, board, books), and you will do what we want you to do.

So with some resentment, she followed in the path her parents laid out for her, and went into the medical supplies industry.



At first glance, it’s kind of a dream.

You get to take over an already established business, you have the expert help of your parents and everything is taken care of without any worries. You are basically “set for life”, in terms of income.

The only thing is….. she will always have this feeling of never having had a choice in the matter.

The good news is that she doesn’t exactly hate her job, but she doesn’t really enjoy it either.

In reality, how can you really enjoy something when you didn’t even have a choice in the matter?

To make matters worse, her two older sisters were allowed to pick (by birth order default) their own professions early on, which left her holding the bag of taking over the family business.

She’s still kind of resentful about this, seeing as they chose to become a doctor and a dentist, and her parents are using the money they saved in the business to pay for their two older kids, but not for her, because as they told her “you are already set for life.”


It gave me a lot of pause for thought, seeing as I already plan on NOT paying for my kid’s college educations. I guess I avoid the problem of dictating to them what they have to do with their lives, and they are free to choose and live with the choice they have made.

I feel as though that’s the right decision to make, because I certainly don’t want to be resentful of my kids’ life decisions seeing as I paid for it.

I am personally glad in a way that my parents never paid for my education, at least, in the sense that they forced me into a career I did not want to do just because of money.

I chose to go to business school, and I got to choose my profession, which makes all the difference to me.



  • Dillon

    I don’t understand how she didn’t have a choice? She could have paid for her own school. It was her choice to do what her parents wanted and take their handout.

  • Ramona

    My folks were very relaxed with my future and I got to choose what I studied, my job etc. I then decided to start my own small business and, even if they feared it’s too difficult for me, they were 100% on my side. It all worked out great and I plan on doing the same with our daughter.

  • SarahN

    I chose via enticement, in the way of a one year scholarship. $10k as a 17 year old is pretty good money to ‘try’ a degree. When I realised I liked the people I studied with (more than I liked people I studied with in school), I thought, I can make a go of this – engineering is well paid, the degree has a clear vocation/job from it. Everything I really considered in a job! 6 years on, I don’t regret it!

  • Kathy

    When my son went to college we told him that he could choose his own major. HOWEVER, it had to be in a curriculum that would put him on the path to being self-sufficient upon graduation. I agree that parents shouldn’t dictate what their kid chooses, but they definitely have a responsibility in guiding the student toward something that will help them get a job. In today’s society, only the most wealthy can choose something like art history or dance, or gender studies. The reality is that kids today need a little help being realistic about their choices rather than simply following their passion. Perhaps a career providing major with a minor or electives in a different area would work.

  • Elroy

    I picked my major based on a post card that came in the mail. And my school for that matter.

  • Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom

    My sister looked at my courses I wanted to take in high school, crossed a bunch out and said I should graduate early and take her program in university. Seemed like a good idea. So I did. Besides magigian, there wasn’t much I grew up dreaming to be and I realistically didn’t like all the practice.

  • Taylor Lee

    No way I’d ever let my parents dictate my profession. In part I think I can say that because after high school, and heck in part during high school, my families stopped financially supporting me so I don’t really feel like I “owe them one” re: my career.

    However, I did meet a woman in college whose parents were funding her education and made her become a hardcore electrical engineer, when really what she wanted to be was a software developer. I told her she should follow what she was interested, parents be damned (especially since it wasn’t like she was putting her financial future in danger or anything being a SWE and wasn’t in line to take up the family business). But then she gave me this look like I was an irreverent heathen who’d suggested patricide as a way out. I wonder how she likes her life now…

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