Lack of guidance based education system has resulted in a large portion of the population being placed into jobs that are not appropriate to their unique personalities.

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]owards the end of last year, I gave a talk on the role of parents in their children’s career choices and like one parent put it, this was an ‘Aha moment’!

The parent reported that his son had been home for one year because he had refused to pay for his college fees for what he termed as ‘careers for failures’! The child wanted to pursue music but the father could hear none of it. The child stuck to his g**s and decided to stay home instead of pursuing the course of his father’s choice; the father too stood by his!

To cut a long story short, the battle of these titans ended that day, and the boy is now pursuing music at Daystar University.

Parents are well meaning and are considered the single greatest influence on a student’s career selection. They play a huge role in the choices children make when they start looking for a career. They influence the level of e*******n or training that their children achieve; the knowledge they have about work and different occupations; the beliefs and attitudes they have to working; and the motivation they have to succeed.

Every parent wants his/her child to succeed!

However, studies show, most parents try to live out their own unfulfilled career dreams through their children, something that does more harm than good to the students. The current obsession with universities started with these notions: that for a child to be successful, for a home to be wealthy and have a status symbol, for a mother to hold her head high, for a man to have an ego massage, a child must be a graduate.

These, coupled with lack of guidance based e*******n system, have resulted in a large portion of the population being placed into jobs that are not appropriate to their unique personalities.

While the purpose of e*******n and lifelong learning cannot be underestimated, it is important for parents and other stakeholders to understand that every human being is a piece that has a unique fit in the puzzle of life. Some will love working with their hands and stools; others with theories and ideas; others will find joy in working with people; others want to lead and take risks while others will love working in structured environments.

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In all these categories, some will go for degree courses, others for diploma while others will opt for certificate courses. In all of them, success will be relative and every individual will have a chance to stretch, gain more skills, relearn and so on.

Parents need to understand that they remain facilitators and not influencers of their children’s career choices. The dream belongs to the child, not the parents. But to ensure that this process is smooth, I have some two cents advice for parents; one, help your children in discovering their own passion, aptitude, strengths and weaknesses and motivate them to follow through; get information regarding all aspects of the chosen career and help the child understand the work life in that career by associating with professionals in the field; try and stop your child from falling prey to peer-pressure and herd mentality; seek professional help whenever required.

E*******n and training

I would also advise that, like the parent above, do not dictate a child’s decision, rather guide them towards taking an informed choice; do not burden the child with unrealistic expectations; career scope changes with time; desist from imposing the ideas or views that existed during your days; desist from misguiding your child into choosing a career of your choice; try not to allow other people (friends, extended family, or relatives) to influence your child in the career selection process.

Whether your child is going for a degree, diploma or even a certificate course, start by understanding their interests, skills, personality, values, gifts, talents, abilities and capabilities; then harmonise these with e*******n and training.

A better and easier way is to take a career test. This test provides feedback on one’s unique attributes, unique career fit, professional goals and direction. It provides students, youth and job seekers with information and advice that can be useful for exploring career and work life interest.

Margaret Waithaka is the Executive Director of Discover Your Career Ltd and author of Discover Your Career Workbook. Email: [email protected]. website:



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