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, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Recently, my 9-year-old hit a snag in his martial arts class. He practices Shotokan, a style of karate that focuses on mastering technique through continual refinement. His sensei sums it up by saying, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” (more…)
This is the Part 2 of a two part post. The first part is available here.
We are thinking about moving. Yesterday we visited two very nice houses at great prices and relatively close to where we live. I loved the first house in the sense that it has a practical, easy to clean design and would be great for the kids. However, there isn’t a single tree in the property! Also, it is completely exposed to neighbors and people in the street, which is something I do not like at all. The second house has lots of lovely trees, yet had an unpractical format that is not too child friendly. Among other things, it includes a high mezzanine that would be quite hard to keep the kids away from.
Basically, I would like to have the first house in the second house’s lot, which would be by the forest we live next to now!
Nevertheless, even though neither is perfect, either one of them would give us the chance to move and have a more organized, cozier home without undergoing the stress of home improvement projects. Plus, one of the advantages of moving – although it can also be a stress factor – is having a chance of reorganizing all of the stuff one has accumulated along the years and donating a bunch of items that are no longer necessary. Some even say that there are huge psychological benefits, as going through all that accumulated stuff can even stimulate the re-evaluation of an entire life and life style.
I believe the single greatest reason for staying, both for my husband and I, is the forest. I also like to think that living the way we do – with such close contact to the forest and all of its fauna and flora – will give our children a different perspective in life.
In his excellent book, Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience, Chinese geographer Yi-Fu Tuan discusses how one’s home and its architecture influences the perceptions of and relationship with the environment, comparing the case of China and the USA.
Another thing that bothers me is that the new owners of our house might not “take care” of the forest as we do. Of course we only “look after” a tiny piece of the forest right behind our house, but some of the animals have almost become part of the family. For example, there is a sloth that our daughter has named Melissa…but also the tiny squirrel that makes its chirping sounds early every morning, the tegus that live in a hole in our backyard, plus the humming birds, chameleons, possums, agoutis, and so many others!
The sad truth is that surprisingly, many of our neighbors don’t care much about the forest. We often ask ourselves why they live here. They place high walls between the forest and their properties. Sometimes they illegally cut down the closest trees out of fear that they may topple over their houses (even though rarely a professional is summoned to check if there is truth in that fear), or they clear the bushes and smaller trees because they believe it will ward away snakes. More than once we have patiently talked to people about these issues only to be repelled off angrily in a menacing tone.
On the other hand, I also worry about the possibility of an unhealthy attachment to the house itself on my part. I don’t think it is healthy to be overly attached to any object. I recently saw how difficult it was for my mother to move out of her huge and decaying house, even though she was living completely alone, widowed for the second time (and now the difficulty to sell or do something about it). Similarly, my mother-in-law lives alone with her eldest son in an old eight bedroom house which almost everyone in the family is extremely resistant to sell due to their childhood memories and attachments.
Thus the question remains. Should we remodel our house and make the best of it? Should we take the “simple” path and just move? What have your experiences been with house remodeling and moving? Please share below!
This is part two of an original post to World Moms Blog by Ecoziva in Brazil.
Photo credit to the author.
“Need to go and get his hair cut…” I made a mental note as I run my fingers through his now obviously long hair.
“But why Mommy?”
“Oh no, I missed a question…” I inhale and look at him deeply. “Why what? Sorry I was just thinking you need a haircut soon.”
“But why you have to go back to work?”
Sigh…I tried to compose myself even as his messy hair is still between my fingers.
“Because I have to make a living so I can pay for your school. So you could do after school activities…” and so I can add you to a health insurance coverage (I added this bit in my head).
“Will you work out of town?”
“No, Pumpkin. I will find something here.”
“Ok…” he hugged me and I hugged him back tightly and told him I only ask that he study well in school and he behave well.
“You know I love you and I will always be there for you, right?”
“I love you Mommy…” and in the dimmed room I wiped my tears.
The memory of his teacher’s reactions when I told her last year that I will be moving to Bali to pursue a career flashed before me. Back then, she told me that my son’s behavior in school has improved so much ever since I quit working. She was worried.
And for the past few days I’ve been weighing all my options.
Working from home through my writing is sadly not enough to cover everything we need, my son and I. Being a single mother, I am the sole breadwinner, and I have realized for months now how behind I am on getting his needs met. New school uniforms…thanks to my parents, that and my son has a brand new sturdy backpack for school this year from them.
I was content working from home. I get to spend more time with my son; I am home when he gets home from school. We are happier. I didn’t have to get up around dawn to beat morning traffic. I am a happier single mother.
So, I have decided to put my contentment aside, dust up my resume and started sending them out today. Hoping my old field of career will have an opening somewhere, somehow. He will be fine, I keep telling myself. My son understands that I need to do this not just for the obvious financial reasons but also to help me feel better about being productive again.
How do you prepare your kid(s) when you go back to work full time? Any advice?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Maureen from Scoops of Joy in Indonesia.
“From Technicals to Tummy Time: Inside My Decision to be a Stay-At-Home Mom”
Rebels, instability, armored vehicles, curfew, and no-go zones. Four short years ago, those words dominated my daily life. Fast forward to today and it’s diapers, infant Tylenol, Boogie Wipes, potty training, and “Dinosaur Train.” I think we can call that a pretty significant life change. Was it one that I saw coming? Not at all.
My husband and I always knew that we wanted to have children – definitely two and probably more. We were excited about traveling the world with them, raising them abroad, and teaching them about the importance of being open, understanding, and tolerant of other cultures. Our Foreign Service lifestyle was perfect for this. At the time I became pregnant with my first, we had already lived in Africa, Asia, South America, North America, Australia, and the Middle East. We were looking forward to the adventures that lay ahead with a family in tow. We could have a family, continue our careers, and introduce our children to so much of the world.
All the while, I could remain doing the very unique and powerful work that had defined not only my career, but me as a person. My role included participating in demining campaigns along the Mozambique-Tanzania border, serving as an independent observer in Mozambique’s local and national elections, barring Venezuelan drug dealers from entry into the United States, visiting and speaking with rebel groups and refugees in Darfur, Sudan, and being baffled – ad nauseam – by the lack of progress in U.S.-China climate negotiations.
I never thought much about leaving my career to be a stay-at-home mom. Before I was pregnant, a distant family member lambasted me for entertaining the idea I might continue my career after children came along – a judgment which deeply offended me (and still does). Working as a U.S. diplomat, and perhaps becoming an ambassador, is always what I had wanted to do. I didn’t believe working full-time and being a mom were mutually exclusive (and for the record, I still don’t).
My dad – a captain for Pan American Airways – and my mom – a flight attendant for National Airlines – continued to work after I was born for several years, carefully arranging their schedules so that one of them could be at home with me while the other was away. Why could my husband and I not continue our careers in the Service, alternating times we might need to work late to accommodate receptions and presidential visits, and raise our family in the way we wanted to? We could. So it was with that mindset I worked until the day I delivered my first baby. In the final weeks before delivery I worked until midnight, defining U.S. South China Sea policy – assured that I would be back to work after the standard three-month maternity leave period ended.
However, after the birth of our son, something changed for me – something visceral; something very basic. Once I held our baby in my arms, it became clear to me that no visits to U.S.-funded rural hospitals, Darfur peace negotiations, or U.S.-China strategic dialogues could convince me to be away from him.
While I had loved my job, my calling in life had changed to raising him – and other children we might have – in the best way that I could, making myself available to him as often as I could. I had changed my mind; my whole outlook on my career, and pretty much – life. I resigned from the U.S. Foreign Service and became a stay-at-home mom.
My husband and I were extremely happy with the decision, but there were many others that weren’t. My own dad called me a quitter and repeatedly voiced his “disappointment” with my decision. “I thought you’d be an Ambassador,” he said. At work, others tried to call my bluff. Why would I quit my career with the seniority I had accrued? That wouldn’t make any sense, right?
I write this not to judge others for their decision to continue to work after the birth of a baby – only to share my story.
I, so dedicated to work and ambitious in my career goals, chose to walk away from it all after our son was born. It was a decision that shocked me. It was not something I saw coming – not even at 39.5 weeks pregnant; yet, this was something that was crystal clear when I became a mother. I realize how important it is for parents to make their own decisions about work/life balance. Many moms, several of my closest friends included, feel the need to balance work and parenthood equally. I admire them for the ability to juggle both so beautifully and successfully. I also realize that many families cannot afford for one parent to choose to stay at home. To those families, I have the utmost respect, because I can only begin to understand how hard it might be to want to stay at home with your children, but not be able to do so.
Parenthood, motherhood, fatherhood – they change you. You might choose to remain in your same working pattern, but you will have become a more sensitive soul. You might decide that a Saturday trip to the park is far more enjoyable than dining at your favorite brunch spot. And you will begin to cherish sleep more than you ever thought possible. Welcoming a baby into your life is powerfully transformative. Things you never gave a moment’s thought to before become incredibly important – and may even change your path, and that of your children.
So, what changed for you?
Loren Braunohler and her family moved to Bangkok in November 2010. A former U.S.diplomat who served in Mozambique, Venezuela, Sudan, Washington DC, and Thailand, Loren resigned from the U.S. Foreign Service in July 2011 to be a full-time mom to son Logan, now age three and daughter Katelyn, age fourteen months. When parenting permits, Loren is a freelance journalist and regularly contributes to Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, CNN Travel, and Bangkok Mothers and Babies International Magazine, among others, and guests blogs for premier parenting websites such as World Moms Blog. In 2012, Loren started Toddle Joy, an online blog and resource for expat parents of young children who are new to Thailand and the region.
Samples of Loren’s work are available on her website www.toddlejoy.com. Photo credit to the author.