My friend’s son told him something in 2003 which confused and horrified him in equal measure.
Being from a business family, he expected his son to follow in his footsteps and take over their successful manufacturing business. When the son entered the 12th standard, he told my friend that he was not sure whether he would like to pursue engineering or not. He went on to add that he would like to take a break after his HSC to figure out what exactly he wanted to do. My friend didn’t know what hit him and he felt that his son had let him down.
He immediately rushed to me and pleaded with me to convince his son of such foolhardiness. I calmed him down and told him that he should be happy that his son shared with him more as a friend than a nagging father. Frankly, I was fully aware of what it feels like not pursuing what you like and I always told myself that I must help my children pursue their dreams as I wouldn’t like them to blame me even once for not allowing them to do what they wanted.
But since my friend was feeling bad, we decided to think through this concept proposed by his son.
India’s education system is like a straight jacket. The process of competing with thousands of other kids for a single spot in IIT or IIM is what keeps us focussed. We, as parents, want our children to crack the IIT JEE or MBA CAT so that their future is secured. (To illustrate the mad rush, even during the raging pandemic, nearly 8 to 10 lakh students appeared for JEE). We can not ensure what our son or daughter will do in future, whether they will marry or not, so we tend to push the security box; get a professional degree for an excellent paying job.