Should a Parent Try to Influence a Child’s Career Choice?

A mom wonders whether to support, or mold her kids’ future job paths.


As a writer and an editor, I’ve had a varied career that’s constantly in flux. I normally find myself changing jobs (or having to change jobs) every five years or less, sometimes not knowing what my next step will be. I’ve written for community newspapers, websites, blogs, magazines, The Wall Street Journal, local businesses and even Soap Opera Digest, where I was a reporter and later a copy editor.

My career has been an interesting one, one that has taken me to TV sets to interview actors and has gotten me in radio and television interviews. But, my career has been anything but stable – say, nothing like the career of a teacher friend of mine who has been working in the same school district for at least the past 10 years, and will probably work in that district for most, if not all, of her professional life.

So, I have a mixture of pride and concern whenever one of my daughters tells me that she, too, would like to be a writer someday, with her hope to one day write (and possibly illustrate) children’s books. I think it’s sweet that my third-grade daughter basically wants to do what her mom does, and can see that she already has quite a talent (at least according to a possibly biased mom’s assessment) in writing and drawing.

So, I say to her, it’s great that you want to be a writer, and you should pursue that dream. But, I tell her that she should also pursue an alternate, more stable career, say, in business, medicine, or teaching, and pursue writing on the side. That’s because as most people know these days, journalism is considered to be one of the worst careers as traditional media outlets lose readers and cut jobs. The likelihood that you can join a company and stay on as an editor with that company for over 40 years, like my dad did with a traditional print publisher, is slim.

So, I too, am guilty of looking up to a parent and wanting to follow in that parent’s footsteps. But, to give my daughters options, I hope to expose them to, and teach them about, many careers as they grow up. I hope I can do that without stifling their dreams. Because, who knows, my daughter who loves to write may write and illustrate a terrific children’s book one day.

Perhaps I can give her something to look up to and emulate. In the past, I have shelved my own dreams and ideas for novels and books, concentrating instead on the daily grind of making a living. Maybe I should try harder to pursue my own dreams so she can realize hers, and let her know that if she works hard enough, the sky is the limit. We’ll see how it goes.

Lauren Kim October 04, 2011 at 02:17 PM
I like the photo choice for the column -- my kids barely know what one of those are! LOL.


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