EGYPT: Choosing our children’s career path


One of the most challenging decisions faced by families in my country is choosing a career path and a college for their child. The journey starts during the second year of high school, when students choose between a scientific or literary curriculum. Later, in their final year, pupils who chose the scientific section must choose between mathematics-focused or biology-focused studies. Both children and parents struggle for support during this journey – and none is given.  Most importantly, children’s strengths are rarely assessed or taken into account when considering the different choices. But do we as parents have the right to choose our children’s career path?

Many factors and beliefs affect this choice. Some career paths are more prestigious than others. Some colleges are suitable for males but not females, and vice versa. Graduates of some colleges get hired immediately after graduation while others are less likely to find jobs quickly. Some families believe that children must follow their parents’ career path of their parents, or realize their parents’ own dreams. Most importantly, if the child does not get high enough scores they will not be accepted to their college of choice.

I admit that at this young age, most children are not mature enough to make such choices on their own. Even if they are interested in a certain field, most children are still unable to assess their own strengths and capabilities as they relate to the real world. As a result, many students simply comply with their parents wishes.

During a school seminar I once conducted, I met a girl whose mother forced her to select the literary course because she believed that scientific studies required too much work. The girl loved science, but her mother discouraged her from following her passion. By the end of the year, the girl was miserable and the mother regretted her decision. Another student’s father wanted her to join the pharmacy college, although the girl wanted to study arts. Many students shared their stories, lamenting that their parents were forcing them to join specific career paths.

I remember my own experience many years ago when I graduated from high school and wanted to join the faculty of engineering to study computer science, because I loved mathematics. My father wanted me to go to the faculty of commerce because he, himself, was a banker. I, however, insisted, and made my own choice.  By the end of my third year of college I knew this course of study was not for me, but unfortunately I couldn’t make a change. I did not know what else to do and no one would allow me to follow a different course. On the other hand, I never regretted because the choice was my own.

Just six years ago I decided to shift my career from software engineering to life coaching. All my colleagues and family were against me. They still consider me foolish to leave a prestigious position for a complete change and an unknown career. I believe in what I am doing, I believe in its power, and what difference it made in my life. Sometimes I wish I had done it earlier.

Choosing a career path that provides fulfillment and satisfaction  to our children and suits their capabilities and strengths is the most important choice in their lives. It is true that making a career shift is possible now, but not all people are courageous enough to take such a risk. In addition, why should they waste their time and energy on an inappropriate path while we can help them avoid it? With support from specialists, we can better understand our children’s strengths and preferred way of learning, and we can allow them to try different activities and fields to discover their real passion. Most importantly, we should not impose our own choices on our children. They must make their own decision, with support and guidance from us as parents.  With our help, they can learn how to make the best choice for themselves.

Do you have any experiences with helping your children to choose a career path? Are assessment tools used in your country to help the students make the right choice? Would you impose a certain field of study on your child just because you believe it suits them even if they do not like it?

This is an original post for World Moms Network by Nihad from Alexandria, Egypt. Nihad blogs at  Aurora Beams Life Coaching.

Image via Stuart Miles,


Nihad is an Egyptian woman, who was born and has lived her whole life in Alexandria, Egypt. She says, “People who visited this city know how charming and beautiful this city is. Although I love every city in Egypt, Alexandria is the one I love the most.” She is a software engineer and has worked in the field for more than twenty years. But recently she quit her job, got a coaching certificate and she is now a self employed life and career coach. She says, “I believe that women in this era face big challenges and they are taking huge responsibilities. That's why I have chosen my niche -- women looking for happiness and satisfaction. I help and support them in making whatever change (career change, life change, behavior change, belief change…) they want to bring more satisfaction and happiness in their lives.” Nihad is a mother of two lovely boys, 15 and 9 years old. She states, “They are the most precious gifts I have ever had. I madly love them, and I consider them the main source of happiness in my life.” Our inspiring mother in Egypt can also be found at Aurora Beams Life Coaching.

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USA: The Motherhood Penalty

USA: The Motherhood Penalty


A Chinese publisher is hiring me to write a biography for a well-known Chinese American doctor and politician. They wanted 300,000 words by the end of this year.  I made it clear that it’s not possible. Considering the long-term contracts I already have, my family situation and my daily schedule, the earliest time I can finish the big book will be next May.

They offered me a $3,000 bonus if I could finish the writing the book on their timeline. Wow, $3,000!

I told them, “I’ll think about it.”

That night for some reason my little one was unusually fussy and insisted to sleep with his mommy. I squeezed myself into his toddler bed and accompanied him. After two bed time stories he fell asleep peacefully. I lay there, staring at the ceiling.

Once again I strongly felt how children can slow a mother down on her career progress. If it was three years ago, before we had a kid, producing 300,000 words within ten months would not be a problem for me at all. I am not boasting it, but hey, they didn’t call me “kuài shǒu” (the fast writer) for nothing!

But now, with a little child, if I want to finish 300,000 words in a year, either I’ll be drained or my child will be ignored.

Women certainly have a different work-life balance than men. Several years ago there was a white paper on the Position of Women in Science in Spain that concluded a man with children is four times more likely to become a full professor than a woman with children is.

The white paper emphasized that women who have children are discriminated against simply because they are mothers and not because their job performance is actually different.

Based on my own experience, I believe that is true. I was harassed by my supervisor for pumping at work. Still, there is a lot we can do to fight back when facing discrimination. We can advocate for equal working rights, we can urge our law makers to pass bills that end discrimination against working mothers, we can file law suits against our discriminating employers. I, for one example, took my previous company to court and was happy about the result.

But we cannot fight nature. The nature rule is that women have to spend more time on their children. Mothers have greater childcare responsibilities than fathers. It’s the mother, not the father, that carries the baby for months, is in labor for hours and breastfeeds for months, or even years. And while some may hope for a different division of labor some day, these work-life realities do contribute to the reason why women who are mothers are on slower career tracks than men.

In this case, if I can’t earn that $3,000 bonus, that’s simply because I need to spend time on my child, not at all because I am discriminated against.

I tossed and turned all night long. It’s not that I want the $3,000, but I really want to speed up my career progression, which has been slow ever since I had my child. But do I want to be drained? More than that, do I want to ignore my child for one whole year?  Weighing these things in the balance, that $3,000 didn’t seem so important.

In the morning my little one opened his eyes and saw his mommy was still laying by his side. He giggled and touched my face. I made up my mind.

Working mothers probably will never have the perfect answer to work-life balance. It’s our paradox of choice. I just want to try to live more and regret less.

Have you struggled with juggling your career path and your role as a mother?  How do you find a balance between work and home life?  

This has been an exclusive post for World Moms Blog by To-wen Tseng.  She can be found writing at her blog “I’d rather be breastfeeding” and on Facebook and Twitter

Photo credit to the author.

To-Wen Tseng

Former TV reporter turned freelance journalist, children's book writer in wee hours, nursing mom by passion. To-wen blogs at I'd rather be breastfeeding. She can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

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