Rev Njue: Don’t impose a career path on your child

Students of Lenana School in Karen, Nairobi County sit for their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exam at the school hall on November 7, 2016. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • This tendency has caused people to work in jobs that they dislike, losing interest and affecting their productivity, which impacts a company's performance and overall profitability.
  • Waking up in the morning and returning late from a career you do not like is not easy.
  • Stress trickles down to the people within your circles including family members because the person lacks a sense of life fulfilment.

The Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) announcement created a new dilemma: career choices for the students. Of course, the top candidates chose law, medicine, engineering and another white-collar course. But this is the path of only a small percentage of the learners, as some did not qualify to join university. Or maybe they are unable to raise the school fees needed, even if they qualify. Admittedly, some may just not be interested in furthering their education. 

Sad as it is, some parents will likely force their children to take up further courses based on their presumed marketability rather than their children's gifts or passion. Autocratic parenting has a way of ignoring children's talent and interest and this tendency has a way of coercing these children to do things outside their area of gifting. While the intention of the parents is for the best interest of the child, if wisdom is not exercised, this can easily crash the future of your child. I will illustrate this by sharing an Old Eastern Parable:


A typhoon stranded a monkey on an island. In a protected place on the shore, while waiting for the raging waters to recede, he spotted a fish swimming against the current. It seemed to the monkey that the fish was struggling and needed assistance. Being of kind heart, the monkey resolved to help the fish. A tree leaned precariously over the spot where the fish seemed to be struggling. At considerable risk to himself, the monkey moved far out on a limb, reached down, and snatched the fish from the waters. Scurrying back to the safety of his shelter, he carefully laid the fish on dry ground. For a few moments, the fish showed excitement but soon settled into a peaceful rest.


The monkey's intention was good, but separating the fish from its environment led to its untimely death. 


Parents should advise their children on what career path they should take, dictating to them their trajectory of life is detrimental to their future. But their resilience diminishes while the student is right in the middle of the course. Dropping out of school is likely to happen and those who graduate, more often than not, file their certificates never to use them. While serving as a youth pastor, one statement that I would hear from the young people was- “I will finish this course and give the certificate to my parents because the course I am doing was their choice.” The young person starts venturing into the area of passion later, which can lead to delayed life transitioning. Those who find it difficult to pick up are likely to sink into depression or engage in deviant behaviour.

This tendency has caused people to work in jobs that they dislike, losing interest and affecting their productivity which impacts the performance and overall profitability of a company. Waking up in the morning and returning late from a career you do not like is not easy. Stress trickles down to the people within your circles including family members because the person lacks a sense of life fulfilment. 


Good parenting is pegged on empowering your children to the right career path and not making decisions for them. If you help to nurture your child’s talent from the beginning, he or she will grow knowing which career is the best. Parents should believe in their children and they should be gentle in directing a career choice and not imposing it on them. Develop a culture of open discussion with your child and establish their interest instead of imposing a career path on them. Encourage your child to start finding out more about the course and what it entails. 

It is your responsibility as a parent to discern your child's gifts and start aligning the gift into a possible career track. 


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