Opinion: 5 Reasons why you absolutely should not listen to your parents about career choice

by Daniel Okechukwu

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt the need to not listen to your parents on the choice of career? Maybe because they are insisting you forget about your passion and go for a “lucrative course” or the traditional four – Medicine, Law, Engineering, and Accounting.

Sometimes, it is an issue of digital jobs versus traditional jobs, parents’ dream versus your dreams.

If you are Nigerian, then, you most likely have been in this situation.

One of the most clichéd stances by Nigerian parents is “my kids will study what I want them to study.” In most cases, that position is final.

When a child disagrees with some parents on this issue, he is pointed to Exodus 20- 12, which says “Honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”

However, honouring your parents and obeying them are different things.

Some parents even take more severe measures. Like disowning the child or threatening to stop sponsoring the child’s education.

Yes, I have seen this!

Most of the time, your parents mean well but they are very wrong. Their view is mostly myopic, outdated or born out of fear.

They are either speaking out of fear of unemployment or because they think they know better.

Whatever their view is, here are five reasons you should, maybe, not listen to your parents when deciding on what career path to follow.

Five reasons not to listen to your parents on Career choice


1. Your Parents cannot Give What They do not Have


Many say your parents should be your role model, but this is not applicable in all cases. In some cases, it is even dangerous.

Just because they are your parents does not mean they are perfect or all-knowing.

Your dad, who is a doctor, may not be in the best position to advise you in chasing a career in acting.

Your mum in civil service may not understand digital professions like freelance writing, blogging, and graphic design.

There is nothing wrong in listening to people who have excelled in that career you wish to pursue over dad and mum.

That is why mum and dad are not your teachers in school, lawyers in courtroom or surgeon in the theatre.

They are not expert at everything!

2. They Do Not Understand Millennial Jobs


A survey carried out by LinkedIn revealed that over 38% of parents do not understand millennial professions. I bet that figure is more in Nigeria.

Recently I was forced to explain how lucrative photography is to a parent. She still thinks photographers are those guys that just take pictures for ₦100 (less than $1).

When I told her some photographers charge over a million naira to cover events and that they could cover over five in a month, she still was not having it.

No way on earth will her son be a photographer!

Photography is a job that has been around in their days; it has just evolved now. What about professions that are foreign to them such as SEO and Public Relation Management?

Have you tried explaining who a Blogger, Social Media Manager or Freelance Writer is to your parents? I have, and it was frustrating!

3. They Might Not Understand Your Passion as Much as You Do


Your parents have their passions, interests, views and so do you.

They might see Doctors, Lawyers, and Engineers as superhumans while you see folks like Neil Patel, Brian Clarke of CopyBlogger, Linda Ikeji, Mark Zuckerberg as demigods.

What they like to do and what you like to do are different.

Your lawyer dad might enjoy arguing in the courtroom while you enjoy playing Minecraft and broadcasting live on YouTube.

A typical Nigerian parent will not understand how you can make money from playing games online. He or she might even think playing games for a living is irresponsible.

You see, your views are different from theirs. So, while you need your parent’s guidance in life, on things they do not understand, maybe, you should close your ears to them.

  1. Many Did Not Listen, and They Are Doing Well

You will not be the first if you decide to not listen to your parents on the profession to pursue. Many opposed their parents and went on to build a successful career.

Are they happy? We can bet they are!

Pop singer and most followed person on Twitter, Katy Perry, pursued a career in secular music against her parents’ wishes. Her parents are Evangelists!

Today she is one of the most successful pop singers of her generation.

She has 13 Grammy nominations to her name. She is a recipient of four Guinness World Records, Five American Music Awards, and five MTV Video Music Awards.

If you are a music aficionado, you know this is no small feat.

5. Because It Is Your Life Not Theirs


In the end, it is your life. You know yourself better than anyone. You know your strengths and your weaknesses more than anyone, including your parents.

Some people will argue that a child cannot decide for himself, especially here in Nigeria, but we can agree that such view is very parochial.

Maybe our parents need to learn to trust us more. At sixteen, the most common age kids leave secondary schools these days, a child knows his or her skills, talents, academic strengths and hobbies.

If you decide to pursue a career in something that does not interest you because your parents want you to, you will be the one to suffer the repercussions of that decision, not them.

Even if you turn out successful in the career they chose for you, will you be happy?

These are the things to ponder on before you allow anyone decide for you. Listen to their advice but when deciding on what to do with your life, consider your happiness and aspirations first before anyone else’s.

In conclusion, this article does not disregard the institution our parents constitute. That you did not listen to your parents on career choice does not mean you are disregarding or dishonouring them, and do not make the mistake of thinking your parents know all.

More importantly, be the architect of your future. Do not sacrifice your happiness and goals for your parents.

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

Daniel is a freelance writer and budding movie blogger focused on the Nigerian Film Industry – Nollywood.

Catch him on his blog, Twitter and Facebook.

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