“Mom, Dad, I want to be a…”

Should parents be involved in their children’s careers?

By Ira / 30 November 2021

mom Pokok.AsiaWith the right guidance, your child’s future is promising; Image via 52 Dares

  • Helicopter parents are causing their kids to have low self-esteem 
  • How to give your children autonomy on their career path 
  • Guide your children’s career, don’t micromanage it  

Growing up, we’re hit a lot with the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. Though they can accept the “princess”, “dragon-catcher”, and “cat mom” answers in our younger days, the question gets harder to answer the older we get. 

Why is that, you may ask. This is because some parents like to dictate their children’s career projections. Though we can admit, parents have the best intentions, because after all, who wants their kids to end up without a clear direction in life, dictating someone’s future even with good intentions can be catastrophic.  

Asian parents specifically tend to expect that their kids will either be a doctor or an engineer. First and foremost, can the person who decided these two careers as the ‘it’ careers please stand up? In 2021, The Star wrote that 15,000 doctors who’ve been employed on a contract basis since 2016 have no security for tenure. Aren’t you glad I didn’t become a doctor, mom? 

We can agree that all parents want what’s best for their child — no doubt about that. But let’s find out how you can help your child achieve their full potential without being a helicopter parent.


mom Pokok.AsiaHelicopter parents hinder a child’s growth in the long run; Image via Berkeley Political Review 


What is a helicopter parent? 

According to a licensed psychologist, Ann Dunnewold, helicopter parenting is a term for over-parenting. Parents who adopt this style are typically involved with their children’s school activities and careers, from calling their lecturers for a low grade their child received to attending a job interview with their child. Eek, can you imagine the second-hand embarrassment?  

Basically, helicopter parents take an overprotective role in their kids’ lives to make sure life is as perfect as it can be. Despite this pure intention, this parenting technique may be doing more harm than good.


mom Pokok.AsiaMicromanaging your children leads to poor quality of life; Image via Eb Johnson 


How Micromanaging Your Child’s Future Planning Can Affect Them

  • They never gain independence 

When you decide your child’s education and career path, apply for jobs for them, and even attend job interviews with them, when will the child ever have time to think for themself? 

By making decisions for your children and intervening in a potential mishap, you rob your child of the necessary skills needed to handle conflicts and failures. Through failures, children learn to be resilient and regulate emotions, which are crucial for a functioning life. Always providing this safety blanket may cause them to feel a false sense of security and entitlement. 

  • They lack confidence 

Helicopter parents micromanage because they have no trust that their children will do the right thing, and they are anxious their kids’ actions will reflect badly on them. Ever heard of your parents saying, “What will people say”?. As time goes on, this distrust will transfer onto the child, resulting in low confidence, and triggering anxiety and depression, according to this article by Indiana University

  • They don’t know how to protect themselves 

As they are always protected, children with helicopter parents won’t know how to stand up for themselves. This will create a huge challenge, especially in the workforce, where everyone prioritises themselves over the needs of others. 


mom Pokok.AsiaAnxious parents place an unrealistic expectation for the child to be perfect; Image via SmartParents 


Excuse Me Ma’am, Please Step Away From Your Child’s Dreams

  • Accept the inevitable 

Your child will inevitably get hurt, score low on a test and fail a job interview; life’s messy that way. We understand the parental instinct to protect, but it’s important to accept that these experiences will serve as lessons for your child to grow into the person they’ll be. Your children are a work in progress, and mistakes are part of the journey. 

  • Separate your personal dreams from your child’s 

It’s hard to let go of your dreams, we know. Maybe you had to abandon them in pursuit of parenting. But your dreams are yours; it is unfair for your child to be forced to adopt them into their lives. They already have your genetics; let’s just stop the similarities there. 

  • Find your own passion

If you’re feeling the itch to micromanage your child, maybe that’s a sign that you have too much time on your hands. Instead of relieving that itch, look into what you can work on for yourself. Think about the wishes that your younger self would want to be fulfilled. Maybe you’ve dreamt of starting your own bakery shop, why don’t you pick up that passionate hobby once again?


mom Pokok.AsiaBe involved in your child’s present and future in the right way; Image via River Run


How-to Guide Your Child in Their Career Selections

  • Help them discover their strengths and passion

With a wide range of activities available out there, allow them the opportunity to try new things. Bring them to an art gallery, try out archery, and sit through a robotics class; all of these activities will help your child find his interests. Once they know what they like, let them harness that skill. Who knows? They might be the next Usain Bolt or Picasso. 

  • Encourage them to branch out 

Challenge your children to step out of their comfort zone. Joining after-school clubs, and volunteering over the weekends, will give them a glimpse of what the different industries may look like while also helping them find a community that they can belong to. Socializing with people from all walks of life will bring them new inspiration, rethink the impossible, and grow into their potential. 

  • Engage them in career-related discussions 

Back to the “what do you want to be when you grow up” question. Now, instead of asking with a hidden agenda to take charge of their career direction, why don’t you try listening to the answer? 

Instead of just saying, “no, you can’t be that, be this”, you can ask questions that will help them further understand their career plans. By understanding the reasoning behind their career choice, you can help them identify other opportunities they may not have realized are there. 

To sum it all up, provide your children with a helping hand when it comes to their careers through constructive suggestions and open conversations. Try not to force your thoughts on them, and place an expectation for a mini you.  

Doesn’t this sound better? This way, your child won’t have to walk on eggshells every time the topic of their future arises, and you can be reasonably involved in their adult life.  

A parent’s job is to prepare their children for life without them. As parents won’t be by their side, holding hands and whispering in their ears forever, children need to face some tough challenges to survive in this dog-eat-dog world. 

What do you think about the limit of parents’ involvement in a child’s career? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

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