A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Parental Pressure in Career Paths


Instantly after high school, many students are faced with opportunities and the daunting question about what they want to do with the rest of their lives. Most students do not even know where to start after high school, so many pursue higher education. Some people are pushed in a certain direction by their parents. Parental pressure can have a huge effect on a student’s decision on their future.

Tamara Riffe, a local Glendale parent, stated that she believes parents can sometimes control what their child’s future looks like because they expect their children to succeed at everything and not become a family disappointment. “I think when the child grows up being in a career they is not interested in, then they will go into a depressed state and not enjoy life. The child will then resent their mother or father for pressuring them to go into the wrong career.”

“Personally, my child would not get pressure from me or my husband about their career choices. I will be so proud of them whether they live up to ours or other people’s expectations,” Ms. Riffe said.

John Foster, another local Glendale parent, said “I believe parents know what is best for their children, so if they think it is best for them to go into a certain career then the child should take into consideration sometimes it is best to listen to the parents.”

“When my two little girls grow up, I want to be able to give them helpful advice on the right career. I want to be able to guide them as much as they will let me.” He also said that he would take the chance of having his children resent him if he thought that their career’s would be best advised by him,” Foster said.

Crystal Rossen, a local parent in Glendale, stated, “Children should not be put under pressure by the parents. You are the parent you are supposed to make your child feel amazing about themselves.”I have two boys, and I would never allow myself to control their futures. I have seen where parents come into the picture of the child’s future and that child had a hard time coping with the fact that their parents are lecturing them about whether to go into the career they did,” Rossen said.

Ms. Goguen, the career counselor, said that parents do sometimes put too much pressure on their children because parents wish they could re-do their own lives, so they do it through their children.”I have two [grown boys] and when it came time for them to choose their ‘careers’, I told them I would support anything they decided. And they both are successful at what they have chosen [military & travel industry].I would think that mentally the student would either just keep going through the motions [of what the parents chose], or choose a complete different path – sometimes even if the parent is upset about. Human nature has led me to believe we either kill or be killed – do something to change or continue in the same way,” Ms. Goguen said.

According to the ModernMom website, there are numerous ways pressuring students can backfire The student can…

  • Feel less inspired
  • Feel threatened
  • Feel they are not smart enough or good enough
  • Get anxiety
  • Get more stressed
  • Have a difficult time coping
  • Believe that success is based on perfection
  • Have horrible behavior
  • Commit suicide


Ms. Braun, the History teacher here at Greenway, said that she does not think that parents in this country put too much pressure on their children because she has seen a lot of young people choosing their own career paths.

“I don’t think children listen to their parents more about their career path than the path they want to take. Choosing a career path at the age of 18 is often a daunting task and many students and adults end up changing their minds and career paths. So, while they may start off listening to their parents, they were more likely than not to choose their own path in the end. I also do not think children are destined to be like their parents, but I do think that it is sometimes very difficult for children to not end up like their parents. Children don’t often realize the power a good education can hold for their future.” said Braun.

Braun added, “Knowledge is one of the most powerful weapons we can possess as human beings. If a parent chooses a child’s career path, I believe the long-term effects are detrimental. They will grow up to be adults who aren’t happy because they aren’t doing something they chose and love. It could lead to depression and more commonly, a switch of career paths down the road. Some sources say that a person may make up to seven career shifts in their lifetime,” Ms. Braun said.

“… some parents punish their teenagers for not earning straight A’s, or criticize them for pursuing art instead of a practical profession such as law or medicine. In these cases, a teenager might feel obligated to select a prestigious or high-earning occupation to earn her parents’ respect or to make them proud. On the other hand, when parents make it clear they have no specific expectations for their child’s career, she often feels free to explore a greater variety of professions, choosing one based on her own preferences instead of those of her parents.”- Ellie Williams (https://work.chron.com/effect-parents-adolescents-choice-career-18063.html)

Children sometimes chose their careers based on the previous generations career choices because they want to follow in the path of their ancestors and also because they do not want to let down anyone in the family.

There was a survey taken on the debate whether or not parents should play a role in deciding their child’s future. 38 percent of the people said yes they should and 62 percent say they should not. On debate.org one person said, “Yes, it is 100% correct. parents should be able to direct their children toward their future. This is because the parents have given birth to the child and have to raise them up.

Parents can play a huge role in the life of their child; however, some decisions are for better or for worse.