HSBC Retail Banking and Wealth Management recently conducted a survey asking parents across Canada, UK, USA, Australia, China, Brazil, UAE, Hong Kong, and India to pick health, career success, comfort, or happiness for their children. In terms of children’s career success, India emerged on top with most parents voting for it. Surprisingly, India scored the lowest in terms of children’s happiness, wherein Canada, UK, and USA scored the highest.
What could be the reason?
Indian parents today are from a generation which lived in such an India that was not even a decade old into coming out as an independent country. In this situation, country’s economy was one of scarcity – characterized by limited resources and limited opportunities. This led them to make career decisions based on the aspects like regular pay, job security, and post-retirement comfort through pension.
However, Indian economy has changed and has much more opportunity, access to more resources, and most importantly, access to a world of information. While the children born into this world essentially know that they need not be limited in their thinking, parents are still somewhat in dark. Thus, it is difficult for parents to accept that in this world of endless opportunities, everyone has a chance.
Indian parents need to learn not to prepare their children to fight for getting a piece of the pie. Rather, they need to help them to find a direction to head towards, based on their unique strengths, interests, and passions.
Indian parents being so concerned about their children’s career is, in a way, good too. Let me tell you how. When after my graduation, I had to seek admission in MA (I had been Arts student from the very beginning, thanks to my interest and my parents’ support), I was given a word of warning from my father to clear admission test in the University or he will make me quit my studies (I now believe he wasn’t serious). I decided to give entrance exams in two of my preferred choices, Mass Communication and English, latter being a secondary option, as a backup. Part worry, part ardor; I ranked first in the University’s entrance exam and that too, in English. I went on to choose Mass Communication later, in which I ranked twelfth. Had I not been warned, I couldn’t have realized my full potential.
However, is making career the only aim of our lives? Can career success make us fruitful to the society? As career success is generally not related to the thrill of achievement and creative effort but to wealth, this brings us to longstanding dilemma: Can money buy happiness? In a recent study, researchers have found wealth can lead to happiness, if that money is spent well. Spending well means using money for others as well, rather for oneself alone. This leads to emotional as well as physical well-being. Secondly, using the money not to buy products but to earn value is also a formula for happiness. This means earning life experiences from money than running after materialistic pursuits. This surely makes sense.
Sadly, here in our schools and families, we are not taught the above recipe to happiness. Our worth is rather measured on the basis of the career field we choose, the institution we study in, and figures of our salary. Even in society, the brands we wear and cars we drive in show our status and these covetous factors alone are enough to measure happiness. Even in matrimonial pursuits, most of the parents look out for rich partners, so much so that other crucial factors, like compatibility, are ignored.
Maybe when parents of current and future generations are able to teach their children to strike a balance between all aspects of life, we can move towards a happier India. And, this time, let’s not measure it by our professional success alone.
Share your views on why are Indian parents mostly concerned about making child’s career, does it enhance or hamper happiness, and how to change it.