Indian Parents, Indian Children: A Modern Approach to Education and Career Paths

The bond shared between parents and chil­dren is some­thing which is very typical across cul­tures and is some­what inde­scrib­able.  Irre­spec­tive of every­thing, it is true that no one in this whole world loves and cares about chil­dren more than their parents.  But, par­ent­ing differs from family to family.  Indian parents have always believed in being over­pro­tec­tive of their chil­dren, which is a good thing most of the time, but this good men­tal­ity becomes over­done when parents absolutely control and dom­i­nate their chil­dren’s life at every stage.  The over-pos­ses­sive, con­trol­ling nature of Indian parents affects the chil­dren both pos­i­tively and negatively.

Within the Indian family struc­ture, chil­dren are raised with the under­stand that their parents know what’s best for them, and hence will be the sole author­ity that decides their future — edu­ca­tion and career.  The biggest problem with Indian parents is that they are not able to adapt their minds with the dynam­i­cally chang­ing world.  We are not saying all parents are like that, but espe­cially in rural India, many parents still don’t want to adapt their minds to modern approaches and methods.

Parents believe that “smart” kids should auto­mat­i­cally belong to the science and tech­nol­ogy field, while “average” kids should go for com­merce, and “below-average” kids can go for arts or sports.  In this modern world, this way of think­ing and plan­ning should no longer be hap­pen­ing.  It is called pigeon-holing when kids are pre­de­ter­mined by adults into career paths that they may not want to follow or feel are right for them.

One of the main reasons for this pre­de­ter­mi­na­tion and pigeon-holing is that parents believe that success is mea­sured by mate­ri­al­is­tic gains.  Money.  But, our new gen­er­a­tion is more con­cerned with making a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence in the world from our heart, and not judging every­thing by money, mate­ri­al­ism, and power.

India’s parents gen­er­ally do have an incli­na­tion towards encour­ag­ing their chil­dren obtain­ing a gov­ern­ment job.  Parents believe that there is more job-secu­rity, higher salary, less job-strain, and more respect in society for gov­ern­ment workers as com­pared to workers in other fields.  More­over, it seems that parents believe that getting a gov­ern­ment job is a smoother and easier path than the strug­gle of entre­pre­neuri­al­ism.   In India’s urban centers, this way of parental think­ing is chang­ing and adapt­ing to modern needs and dis­cov­er­ing what is newly avail­able to younger Indians now than in the past, but in rural sectors, the men­tal­ity still has not adapted and grown.

One reason that we believe parents do not support careers in the arts and sports is the uncer­tainty which the feel is asso­ci­ated with those careers.  Middle-class Indian parents think a child should go for grad­u­a­tion and post-grad­u­a­tion instead of going for pro­fes­sional sports, dance, music, or their own start-ups.

Our society has a mind-set that imposes unfair restric­tions on girls.  Girls still have to face a lot of hurdles whether it is about going to school, going out for studies, or for a career.  Even if a female grad­u­ates, some parents say, “What is the need of a job for you when we are here to fulfill all your needs”.  This neg­a­tive and restric­tive atti­tude towards girls is mostly seen in rural India, but we if are to move forward as a modern country, we need to erad­i­cate this men­tal­ity from our thinking.

Many exam­ples of dis­crim­i­na­tion exists between males and females, sons and daugh­ters in India.  There is undoubt­edly a pref­er­ence for sons over daugh­ters.  Some people don’t want to spend a rupee on girls’ edu­ca­tion because the parents think that the girls will anyway marry and go away to do house­hold chores in their in-laws’ house.  So, as the think­ing goes, “What’s the use of spend­ing time and money edu­cat­ing the girl-child?”

Addi­tion­ally, parents also face peer pres­sure from friends and family.  Parents are afraid of what people might say if they adopt a more modern men­tal­ity towards sup­port­ing their child’s inter­ests and per­sonal strengths.Parents tend to take a back seat with their girls because of the taunt­ing reac­tions of society and older cul­tural thinking.

Yet another reason which we believe neg­a­tively affects the men­tal­ity of parents in rural India is that they are simply not aware of the current pos­si­bil­i­ties, acces­si­bil­ity, and support for these new, modern career paths.  More­over, they believe that these modern career paths require a more expen­sive and risky invest­ment than the straight-forward, age-old career paths and ways of think­ing.  Parents feel they cannot take the risk of sup­port­ing their chil­dren’s desire to follow their heart and their own unique abil­i­ties, so they play it safe by retreat­ing into old ways of think­ing, which, we feel is pre­vent­ing rural India from advanc­ing towards moder­nity as it has in other parts of the world or in India’s urban centers.

Indeed, there are cost-effec­tive systems and ways of helping their chil­dren follow their unique gifts towards a mean­ing­ful career, but it may perhaps take many years for our parents to fully under­stand these path­ways.  Perhaps they don’t want to expend the effort or take the time to break out of the old mould. Instead of taking the risk, parents retreat into old think­ing and easier path­ways because they don’t want to adjust and adapt to the modern world.

In con­clu­sion, parents in rural areas of India must be made aware of the modern edu­ca­tion system and how the subject differ from each other.  The stu­dents must improve their capac­ity to lean new tech­nolo­gies and become mod­ern­ized with the current state of what is avail­able to them.  But they need the support of their parents to do this.

Stu­dents must con­vince their parents that fol­low­ing their heart and unique abil­i­ties is a viable and actual path forward.  Living a “suc­cess­ful” life is pos­si­ble in modern times, but we must not con­tinue to be stuck in the old ways of think­ing and plan­ning.  Times have changed.  We are behind the times.  We must adjust and mod­ern­ize our think­ing, open our eyes and   minds.  India can only mod­ern­ize and improve to meet the future when our chil­dren are freed to become what they were meant to be.  Higher edu­ca­tion and mate­r­ial pos­ses­sions are not the only def­i­n­i­tions of “success”.  Times have changed.  The new gen­er­a­tion must be allowed to develop in their own way for the good of India.

Thank you for reading our article.

The Satya Niketan Higher Sec­ondary School Website Edi­to­r­ial Team and Student Leadership.

(The views expressed in this article are not nec­es­sar­ily the same as the school man­age­ment.  These are the views of the stu­dents, and we support free speech and open opin­ions for discussion)