Dear Carolyn: I am a young man in college with many things going in my favor, including a pair of above-average parents. However, my father has a way of controlling my work life. He has often advised me to enter a certain job field, and steered me in that direction by showing the path and giving me a firm push (and tuition money).
When the inevitable rough patches of school and work come up though, it can really make me second-guess whether I am putting in this effort to please myself or to please him. I have dreams to take my career in a somewhat different direction from the one he expects, one that would be more risky but also more fulfilling to me. When I try to bring up these ideas to him, I am met with a lot of resistance, to the point of his doubting whether I realize the gilded road is before me.
This fall I will be entering my last year of school. Is there something to be said of going against a plan – Pigeonholed
The last thing you need is another voice from the clouds (or ether) saying, “Do this, child.” What you need more than anything is some faith in the authority of your own voice, own desires, own opinions, own competence, own gifts and, yes, own mistakes.
Because I feel so strongly about this, and because nothing undermines your authority more than guidance from people with ulterior motives, I’ll disclose mine: I believe the true “gilded road” for any emerging adult is the one that suits and supports their individual passions and strengths.
So what you’re really asking, it seems, is whether you can, without being an ingrate, choose a path that diverges from the one you recognize as the string attached to those gifts.
You know what I think.
You know pretty well what your father thinks.
What do you think?
A more revealing question, perhaps, to ask yourself and potentially your father: Do you think he hoped to raise a strong, independent young man, or a weak, subservient one? And, given that, which is the son he deserves?