In the shadow of our parents’ ambitions

We rely on parental guidance but it’s only that: guidance, not law. | Benz De Marshall Pierre, PantherNOW

Benz De Marshall Pierre | Staff Writer

It is common for parents to recommend or even command that their children embrace a certain profession. Reluctant to disappoint Mom or Dad, we begrudgingly adopt that profession and thus neglect our very own calling.

It’s the dream of all parents to see their offspring succeed. To materialize that dream parents often pour considerable resources into their children’s future; be it in education or some other area, with the view of making a useful individual out of them.

Some of us, I am sure, fell victim to that sort of mindset; however, this is not done out of malice.

For most of them, it’s their way of expressing their parental instincts. Regardless of the admirable reasons behind them, it does a disservice to the youth who must find their own paths.

We rely on parental guidance but it’s only that: guidance, not law.

Every generation is called to leave its own imprint on its respective community, and staying in the shadow of an old generation’s goals simply denies them that.

By being trapped in these shadows, we fear that we will mimic our parents’ flaws and by doing so bring nothing to the grand scheme of life.

A parent should stop infusing their children with their view of the world the moment they show the earliest signs of being responsible.

Growing up in Haiti I often heard it said that the moment the child knows how to safely cross the street, they should be treated as adults. This is of course a bit extreme, but I am sure you get the point.

I was fortunate enough to have parents who never tried to force me on a path that I hadn’t the slightest interest in. As I began to form my own thoughts and articulate the desire to become a doctor, my father bought me an anatomy book. Without a doubt, he was surely cultivating that infantile desire to see where it could lead, but it was never forced on me.

Later, I grew enchanted with music, and to satisfy that newfound interest, my dad enrolled me in music school where I played the guitar. But my adventurous soul was not yet done with its bouts of exploration. As I discovered other interests such as theater and martial arts, he was equally supportive of them and made sure I explored them all.

Thanks to my prowess in all these fields of interest, my father was convinced that I was born for the big screen.

Well, many years later I haven’t the slightest interest in becoming either a movie star or a musician. I am now majoring in political science, a field that fascinates me immensely. I am also a voracious reader with a particular appreciation for classic novels, in fact, I believe they offer some of the best insights into the human condition.

My interest in doing martial arts has not essentially faded but after I underwent a profound change of mindset, I concluded that I had to shift my interests in life.

What could my life be like if instead of following my interests and supporting them, my father had suppressed them or forced me into them?

I know that the reverse of this abbreviated anecdote might be true for many of you. Many of you would have welcomed a parent who supports their child’s love for the arts and a subsequent career in that profession.

But it’s still wrong if they had forced you to choose the arts instead of something else. The reason for that is that as individuals, we should always strive for authenticity. Even if we yield to our parents’ demands and become rich as a result, later on, part of us may still crave the path we were denied.

It’s assumed that people who are forced to follow in their parents’ footprints and neglect their passion don’t end up happy. Disappointing our parents can be a difficult concept however it is critical that our happiness comes first.

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