Here’s why we went against our parents’ wishes

career choices

Parents should take time to research what their child wants to pursue instead of simply dismissing them

Photo credit: Shutterstock

One of the biggest joys of parenthood is to see your child succeed in achieving their dreams. Oftentimes, this success is equated to academic excellence and having an outstanding professional career. Therefore, most parents, if not all, want their children to get quality education to the highest level so as to gain a competitive edge in the scramble for top jobs.

Without a doubt, parents influence a child’s decisions and aspirations to a certain degree, and might even have certain paths that they wish their children to follow. But what happens when the wishes of the parent and that of the child fail to match? When the child feels like they are being forced to live out their parents’ unfulfilled dreams?

Dennis Wairegi is no stranger to this stifling, suffocating situation. After completing high school eight years ago, he found himself faced with a tough decision pertaining to his professional future.

“Looking back, I think my parents had already laid out plans even before I completed my high school education. Therefore, immediately the KCSE results were released, even before I had enough time to process my results, I was enrolled as a self-sponsored Law degree at the University of Nairobi.”

Dennis recounts that it had never crossed his mind to pursue a career in law. He joined the school albeit hesitantly, as he did not want to disappoint his parents. You see, they had taken a tough stance and any pleas to convince them otherwise would have been flippantly brushed aside. After all, who doesn’t want to become a lawyer?

 “I did a good job pretending to like the course and attending classes, but I could only put on the act for so long. With each passing day, I found myself losing taste in studying. I couldn’t find meaning and purpose in what I was doing, I was simply going through the motions.”

Therefore, two semesters in, Dennis decided to drop out. While at law school, he had received a calling letter from Pwani University to study Information Technology (IT). This was his dream career. The letter prompted him to quit his law degree, it gave him the green light to chase his dreams and stop living a lie.

 “Although I was sceptical about approaching my parents, especially as I was now in their good graces after studying law for two semesters, I hoped their disapproval would falter once they saw my calling letter. I hoped they would see sense in what I was saying and allow me to pursue IT.”


Parents should take time to research what their child wants to pursue instead of simply dismissing them

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Nothing was further from the truth and Dennis was not prepared for what followed.

“My parents did not take kindly to my decision. They said it was hasty, childish and unthoughtful, and that I was throwing my life away. They promised not to pay for the IT course and true to their word, they didn’t send me a dime for school fees. I was on my own.”

Dennis was a little shaken, but his parents’ reaction fuelled his resolve to prove to them that he was capable of making the right decisions. In preparation for his admission, Dennis began taking some online courses and short jobs just to familiarise himself with the field and make some money.

“In September 2016, almost a year after I had dropped out of UoN, I joined Pwani University for my undergraduate Bachelors of Science in Information Technology, the degree I currently hold. I joined the institution fully dependent on my meagre savings earned from the online jobs I did after dropping out of UoN.”

Luckily he adds, the school had a work-study programme that targeted outstanding students. Dennis managed to secure a spot of the programme and this eased the financial burden of taking himself through college.

 “I was prepared to cater for myself for the entire course through the jobs I was doing and through HELB loans, after one year, my parents reached out to me. I think it finally dawned on them that the law degree ship had sailed and I was not going to change my mind. I had made a decision and I was going to stand by it. In the second year, they started paying for my IT course.”

He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in IT partially funded by his parents. Professionally, he freelances in software development.

Wasted years

Dennis’s story is reminiscent of that of Eunice Njeri, 26, who coincidentally, shares a passion in IT. Her dream of becoming an IT specialist was shattered after she failed to get the grades to study the course in a public university. Her parents insisted she enroll for a degree in Education to become a high school teacher.

However, Eunice was determined to convince her parents to enrol her for an IT in a private university because they could afford it.

“My parents would hear none of it. They were total believers in public universities as a place where learning actually takes place and just like that, my suggestions flopped.”

career choices

Parents should take time to research what their child wants to pursue instead of simply dismissing them

Photo credit: Shutterstock

In May 2015, Eunice started her education course specialising in English and Literature at the Kenyatta University. She did not like anything about it. Sometimes she skipped class because there was simply nothing to look forward to.

“I did the course but I was not proud of it. In my first year, I was supposed to read set books but I barely touched them. I was totally disoriented and hated the experience.”

The desire to pursue IT often gnawed at her and she began learning how to code, all by herself. In the second year of her study, she decided to bring the matter up once again, with her parents.

Surprisingly, Eunice’s parents gave in this time perhaps after seeing her wallow in despondency and burn the midnight oil learning to code. But here was the catch; she had to complete her Education degree at KU as well.

 In 2019, Eunice joined United States International University(USIU) to study Information Systems Technology(IST).

According to Eunice, she feels her parents had their heart at the right place and were convinced that if she studied to be a teacher she would be guaranteed of getting a job. She also recalls how her parents’ friends and relatives influenced the decision made by her parents.

“When my parents sought opinion from their friends, they were told to take me to Kenyatta University where I could land good opportunities in the education field. None of them asked what I was interested in studying. That was disappointing.”

Whereas Eunice is glad she finally got to study IT, she sees her stay at Kenyatta University as a total waste of time and believes she could have accomplished way more by now.

“If I did my IT course immediately after high school, I would be telling a very different story today.”

She advises highschoolers who are preparing to join the university to have a clear picture of what they wish to pursue and communicate it effectively. It helps, according to Eunice, to have more than just whining words. Learn a skill or two related to your career choice and use that to enhance your bargaining power.

 “As a teenager, trying to convince parents and especially strict ones can be an uphill task. Therefore, instead of engaging in a war of words, show your determination like I did when I started learning coding all by myself.”

She also reminds young people that parents just want to protect their children’s future and ensure they are well set-up in their future careers.

That said, Eunice argues that parents need to see the effort and passion demonstrated by the child. She hopes that parents can support their children to prevent unnecessary suffering and mental anguish like what she went through.

“If you are a parent who is forcing your child to do something they are not interested in, you are not doing justice to them or their mental health. Even if the child is making a mistake, let them be as mistakes are part of how we learn and grow.”

Eunice notes that parents who support their children from the onset end up saving money and enjoying a good relationship with their children.

“Parents should take time to research what their child wants to pursue instead of simply dismissing them. Children want to feel heard by those they honour most, their parents. Ignoring this is not good at all.”