From Bollywood movies to novels authored by regional authors, we find that one of the main antagonists in works of fiction is the traditional Indian parent-the great villain with ‘superpowers’ that can make a child choose a stream of education they dislike, marry when they don’t want to, and lead a life that doesn’t make them happy.
It doesn’t take a genius to imagine what kind of control parents exercise on their child’s education, especially because it is considered the most important factor in a child’s life, an aspect which determines what kind of future they will have. The fear of seeing their children living with a failed career and doomed future is enough for parents to funnel their wards into certain educational streams which are deemed by them as the ‘only option for a bright future’. And children, with no expert advice and counseling, sacrifice their talents and creative dreams and bow down in front of the ‘supreme authority’ of their parents.
However, there is also one fact which makes Indian parents stand out among others. It is the fact that despite their controlling nature, Indian parents are unmatched in terms of support and backing. There is no region in the world, including developed nations, where parents are willing to support their children in education to the extent that Indian parents do. A recent study conducted by the HSBC Retail Banking and Wealth Management states that Indian parents are the most supportive when it comes to sponsoring their children’s education, especially when compared to parents of UK, USA and Canada where financially supporting the education of one’s child is not considered by the majority of parents.
But this support fails to produce the results which could have been possibly attained if students were given freedom to pursue the careers which match their talents.
The root cause of Indian parents’ over-enthusiastic (or dictatorial) attitude is not a single one. It’s more of a combination of several causes. India was marred by economic imbalance since the British rule, something which has not improved much even after Independence. In this circumstance of widely spread unemployment and social imbalances among the rich and the poor, parents –who were adults at that time- saw education as the only messiah which not only provided with a good job but also a dignity which could be attained despite being considered of a lower class. They saw education as the only means which can become a bridge to reach the much aspired ‘higher-class’.
The world witnessed the technological revolution just a few years back. Before that, it was a place with more limitations and constraints. Therefore, the possibilities of finding a ‘dignified employment’ were less. However, as the world witnessed the burst of technological development, gates opened for more careers and varied opportunities, a point which is usually missed by the Indian Parents.
The study conducted by HSBC Retail Banking and Wealth Management has revealed some rather amusing and surprising findings. According to the study, when asked whether they prefer their children’s happiness or their career, 51% of Indian parents replied with the latter. On the contrary, parents in developed nations like USA and UK when asked the same question said that they prefer their children’s happiness over their career success. Neither do Indian parents want their wards to lead an unhappy life nor do their western counterparts careless when it comes to the careers of their children. The only thing which separates them is the perception of success.
Educate the parents first:
Due to the fast paced advancement of technology which paved way for rapid and varied education, parents were left behind in their perception of success. The traditional Indian parents do not know about the wide array of educational streams which have sprung up, and thus force their wards in the same old river even though there are whole newly discovered oceans out there. Unfortunately, students are dependent on their parent’s advice as many of them have no access to good career guidance and counseling.
Based on this, it is essential that along with the students, parents are also educated about the varied career options apart from the usually pursued ones as this –combined with the support which they so enthusiastically render- will end the career imbalance in India’s youth, bringing an era of innovation and creativity.
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