Isaac Newton was the father of classical physics. Charles Darwin was the father of evolutionary biology. Most of you would know who those men were; what you might not know that, had it been left to their parents, they might not have been scientists at all. Let’s talk about Newton first.
Newton’s mother wanted him to abandon school and take care of the farm. However, young Isaac wasn’t too keen about being a farmer. At the farm, he deliberately did a bad job; instead of tending the cattle, he would spend his day reading books and inventing ingenious mechanical devices. Eventually, with the involvement of Newton’s uncle, his mother finally agreed to send him back to school. Today we know Isaac Newton as the greatest scientist that ever walked the planet.
While Newton revolted against a forced career choice, Charles Darwin proved to be a bit more submissive to his father. Darwin’s father wanted him to be a priest, which he, after some hesitation, had accepted. Subsequently, when Charles was nominated for travelling with the Beagles as a naturalist, his father refused to allow him the opportunity. Just like Newton, one of his uncles came to his rescue and the elder Darwin at last agreed to fund the trip for the youngster. The rest, as they say, is history.
Those of us who have had the liberty to choose our professional careers may not realize the battles Newton and Darwin had to wage against their own parents. But for some, it may still be a relevant topic. We may be living in the twenty first century, yet some of us might need to convince our parents about our professional choices. The following five lessons are intended to cover this subject:
Lesson One: Don’t Underestimate the Value of Your Profession
Your profession is a significant part of your life. We are talking about nearly half of your waking hours. Not only this; a few bad hours at work can ruin an entire day. And if it is a daily drudgery, your entire life will feel like a waste. Appreciate the value of your professional career; choose it wisely and deliberately. Don’t force yourself or let others force specific career choices on you.
Lesson Two: Understand and Evaluate Your Parents’ Perspective
Almost all parents want the best for their kids. And in general, they are more experienced. So before starting any discussion, try to understand and evaluate their perspective. Why are they insisting on certain careers, or why are they stopping you from certain careers? Are you being short-sighted? Could this be an emotional bubble? Put on your parents’ shoes and evaluate their views. Not only would this help you to be clearer about your own choices, it will also help you prepare for a fruitful discussion.
Lesson Three: Do Your Homework
Now that you have understood and evaluated your parents’ viewpoints, and assuming you are still convinced about your own preferences, start preparing for a dialogue: gather information and examples in favor of your arguments, anticipate and prepare for questions and counter-arguments, earmark a time and spot so that the discussion remains private. The better prepared you go, the more likely are you to convince them.
Lesson Four: Remain Assertive without Being Aggressive
Once you find the perfect conditions to strike up a conversation, start with some general topic and gradually get to the point. Regardless of the response—which could be cold and discouraging—do not lose your composure; remain calm and assertive. Be cautious of raising your voice as it will weaken your argument. Even if your parents disagree, treat them respectfully. Avoid being sarcastic e.g. hinting about generation gap. If you see any ray of hope towards the end, allow them some time to rethink.
Lesson Five: Keep a Plan B Ready
Learning from Newton’s and Darwin’s life stories, think about any relatives or family friends who can influence your parents; take those aides in confidence. This could be your plan B. In fact, this could be your plan A; instead of talking to your parents directly, your aunt or uncle could be your advocates. Work out which should be a better option in your situation. Good Luck!