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Mallika Offline
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Parents not fully understanding/appreciating my career path - January 29th 2020, 03:32 PM

Hi folks!

So I've had this issue for a few years now. I'm a 21-year-old student studying Genetics at the university level. Both my parents are from a commerce background and no one in our extended family works in any science field.

When I opted to do Genetics, my parents didn't really believe me when I said that it is an extremely hot area in Science/Biology with a vast array of career paths, though they still allowed me to go ahead. Even three years later, whenever I tell them about my future career plans (e.g. higher studies, careers within Genetics), they aren't wholeheartedly convinced that Genetics is a legitimate field. While I have tried patiently explaining to them about the relevancy of the field and its absolute value in the context of health and society, I feel they are saying "Yes, we understand" just to placate me. But I genuinely doubt that they truly understand, because they occasionally say things like "This is why you should have done another field," when it was taking me some time to land an internship (I eventually got a really good one), or "But are you sure there is any relevancy for this project you're doing," and so on.

I have tried my best to explain my chosen field to them multiple times, but I don't think they truly value what I am doing. I've decided to "show not tell", and wait for the day they realise my work instead of having to just listen to what I say. While I completely understand that it might be difficult for them to relate with Genetics (it is such a specific area of Biology) given that we come from a traditional Indian society where studying biology is synonymous with going to medical school only, it is pretty common these days to see people working in so many different areas, it is not that difficult to be convinced of the value of Genetics even if they tried Googling about it. Especially since I have spent a lot of time trying to explain my field's relevance.

If anyone has any advice on how I can get my parents to truly appreciate and understand the value of my chosen path, I would be really grateful.

Thanks in advance!
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Celyn Offline
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Re: Parents not fully understanding/appreciating my career path - February 19th 2020, 08:41 PM

Hey there,

Sorry you haven't had a reply yet!

It sounds like Genetics is your passion and, while it may not always be easy to get work in your chosen field, it also sounds like you are on the right track, landing a good internship. It's just a shame your parents can't see things from your perspective, right?

I think sometimes our parents can be quite stubborn with their views, especially if they have different views to us. If your parents have never gone to university, and no-one in your family works in the science field, it may seem very difficult to get them to truly appreciate your chosen path. More so if you are breaking the mould and doing something different- your parents may be nervous as to how this will turn out for you. And when it appears that they are understanding, it won't take them long for them to come up with a come back of how you should've opted for another path, when things don't go as planned.

Time may help with this. The longer you stick with your chosen path, the more of a chance your parents will come to accept it. Equally, you could try showing them the kind of work you do, or how your work helps in the bigger picture of things- these things may also help your parents to be more understanding.

While parents may have different ideas and expectations for us, most parents just want us to be living our own life in the way that we want to- including our areas of work. If you are really enjoying your work or looking forward to advancing in your field, it may also help your parents to be more appreciative about how seriously you are taking your field of work.

Ultimately though, we can't make our parents be more understanding or appreciative, no matter how much we want them to, unfortunately. You can try to keep engaging them, but it may take some time or, worst case scenario, it might not happen. But focus on your work and the satisfaction you get from it, and try not to put too much of a focus on trying to get your parents to understand- hopefully, they will come around in time!

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Mallika Offline
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Re: Parents not fully understanding/appreciating my career path - May 23rd 2020, 01:56 AM

Hi Holly,

Sorry for the late reply, but thank you SO MUCH for your advice! It makes a lot of sense, and what you wrote just makes me feel a lot better.

I think my parents are definitely trying to understand my field more these days, which I'm happy about. I'm also trying to be empathetic about how new this must be to them, so like you said, I'll give them some time
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