The impact of parental pressure on a child's future career

Zofishan Umair

Zofishan Umair

Zofishan is a journalist, humour columnist, and a mum who has survived nappy explosions mid-air. She has over a decade of experience writing for print and online publications and is currently working on her first book.
Updated on Jul 12, 2024 · 6 mins read
The impact of parental pressure on a child's future career

Stanley Ann Soetoro was a dedicated and determined mother who woke her son up at four in the morning every day for private lessons. These weren’t meant to be substitutes for school; they were English lessons that he was required to complete before he left for school.


This white woman from Oklahoma was living in Jakarta at the time with her son and Indonesian husband. And she was pushing her only son towards better career opportunities, instilling values and encouraging him to have independent judgment.

Years later, her hard work would pay off. That little boy would turn into a man who would run for the US presidency and eventually win 2 terms. Barack Obama would go on to become the first black president of the US and would prove that parental pressure plays a huge role in a child’s career.

Career day at school


But Barack’s mother wasn’t a politician – neither was his father. So what role did she play?

Let’s talk about career day at school. It is an amazing initiative that introduces children to the different career options they can explore based on their interests.

Parents with exciting jobs, such as paleontologists, police officers, or even firefighters, fascinate the children more because that is where all the action is. Nobody wants to be an accountant on that day!

But is that one day enough to influence the career they choose for themselves? And how much does parental pressure play a role in a child’s career?


How do parents influence their child’s future?


For one, kids grow up watching their mums and dads getting ready for work. Not only can parents shape their children’s futures by modeling good behaviour and providing emotional support, but they can also instill values such as time management and work ethic.

Children who receive positive feedback from their parents are more likely to have high self-esteem, confidence, and a positive outlook on life. By modelling healthy habits, strong work ethics, and positive relationships, parents can help their children develop similar behaviours, leading to a prosperous and fulfilling life.

In addition, prioritising education can be a game-changer for a child’s future. That is what Barack’s mother did. She provided her child with opportunities to learn and explore his interests which led to his academic skills and allowed him to pursue his passion. She also set high expectations for her child, such as academic achievement, and in turn motivated him to work hard and strive for success.

Parents can also help their children become responsible, empathetic, and moral adults by teaching important values such as respect, honesty, and kindness. A supportive and nurturing environment can help children thrive and become successful individuals.

Parents do more than just inform children or influence their decisions, rather, they create role models for children to follow. For example, research published in the HBR revealed that women with fully employed mothers are more likely to be employed and hold supervisory positions at work compared to women with stay-at-home mothers. Specifically, these women are 1.21 times more likely to be employed and 1.29 times more likely to be in a supervisory role. Additionally, they work an average of 44 more minutes per week than women whose mothers stayed at home.


Will parental influences affect career choice?


Parents do more than bring children into this world and keep them alive. They strive hard to make their kids better humans and go above and beyond in providing them with resources to make a good life with a successful career.

Richard Williams played a monumental role in the success of the Williams sisters in the world of tennis. Not only was he the driving force, he was also their coach and continued to impact their careers even after.

Parents can influence their children’s career choices through employment, values, expectations, and support for their children’s education and vocational goals. However, children’s career choices are shaped by other factors, such as their interests, abilities, and opportunities, and can evolve based on their experiences and changing circumstances.

What does parental pressure lead to?


However, push too hard and you might even end up breaking your child. Maintaining that right balance and knowing your child’s limit is important. There was a time in high school when Barack complained and rebelled just to show his mother that her ‘experiment’ aka her method of parenting, was failing.

Today, the William sisters have a cordial relationship with their father.

Mental health is important, and while many parents have high expectations for their children, excessive pressure to excel can often cause more harm than good.

Expectations can quickly turn into pressure, and that pressure can have some significant effects. Simone Biles began gymnastics at the age of six and went on to win 19 gold medals before withdrawing from the Tokyo Summer Olympics in 2021 due to mental health issues. Her decision caused a stir but started a healthy conversation around the stress of success.

Parental pressure can cause one or more of the following issues among children:

  • High-stress levels and anxiety.
  • Low self-esteem and a negative self-image
  • Reduced motivation and engagement in learning.
  • Mental health problems, such as depression and burnout.
  • Strained parent-child relationships.
  • Negative attitudes towards school or work.
  • Lack of autonomy and decision-making skills.

Children can quickly turn to drugs and other harmful substances to help ease their anxiety, which is why it is important that parents support their children’s goals and aspirations without placing excessive pressure on them.

How can parents assist and guide their children in making career decisions?


Parents can help their children develop an interest in a particular subject or field by encouraging them to explore their interests and passions. Besides this, parents can provide resources for education and vocational training, further enhancing this interest.

On top of this, offering advice and support without being overbearing or pushy is one-way parents can make children comfortable enough to consult them for career decisions. Moreover, parents should encourage a healthy balance of independence and guidance to help their children make informed and fulfilling career choices.

As a parent, you should also focus on what brings your child happiness. If they find joy in medicine and research, encourage them to be a doctor. If they prefer the arts, help them find a profession that can lead to going for their passion while having financial safety.

How do you deal with family pressure in your career?


Dealing with family pressure concerning a career can be challenging, but several strategies can help, with open communication being the first. Communicating goals and values clearly to one’s family can help create healthy boundaries and eliminate any unrealistic expectations others may have.

Setting boundaries and making it clear that a person is responsible for their career and relevant choices can significantly reduce expectations and family pressure. Besides this, focusing on one’s passions and interests rather than trying to meet others’ expectations can help one become confident in their choices.

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