Latest News Editor's Choice


Opinion / Columnist

Parents abroad demand that their children do law and medicine

21 Mar 2021 at 07:28hrs | Views
A career is medicine is stressful enough for the doctors who see it as a calling. For those who do it because their parents forced them, it could be critical and indeed it becomes a punishment. Traditionally parents have come from a different scenario. They see an academic achievement as Law, Medicine and Engineering.

As Children grow up they are encouraged to take up Law or medicine. In most cases parents want their children to exactly what they failed to do in their times.

A friend of mine a lecturer at a UK University told me this story. He said one day he was just finishing an open day program at his university. A prospective student approached him and this conversation took place.

"I don't know how to ask this? My parents really want me to do medicine but I'm not interested. How do I say no? I think I can get in but my heart is not in it."
"It's great that you recognise it," I said. "Have you tried talking to your parents?"
"I've tried and tried, but they have invested their whole life in my brother and me."
"What would happen if you said no?"
"They would be really disappointed in me. That would break my heart."
And then:
"But if I did medicine, I wouldn't be honest to myself. And I'd take the spot of someone who really wanted it."

She faced a wicked dilemma: whether to obey the urging of her parents or rely on her own, admittedly young, instinct. A momentous decision hung in the air, the sort parents can help address, but of course, the parents were the problem. And though she relaxed at the opportunity to voice her dilemma, I knew that the knots in her stomach would return soon.

I wished that I could sweep away her problem; I wished I could convince her parents that a child of her poise and humility would do well in whatever she chose. I told her to see the school counsellor again and I reminded her to be true to herself but when she left, I felt hollow, musing whether she would one day be the troubled student or the depressed intern I encounter.

This girl represents many students who are forced to embark on courses which brings joy to their parents without considering for a minute how the child feels and what is her strength in life.

Many Children in the Diaspora are increasingly finding themselves in a quandary, as they are forced to choose between their hearts' desires and those of their parents.

Believing that the country has some of the finest law and medicine schools in the world, parents are forcing their children to get into medical school or become lawyers.

I have met a lot of children here who are being forced to pursue careers they do not want.
Children are in a dilemma.
These youngsters know what they want and know their strengths but it seems, for the parents, only law and medicine are suitable, presumably for the 'prestige' which comes with the professions.
It appears the parents are trying to achieve, through their children, what they failed to achieve.
This has resulted in the creation of doctors and lawyers who are not committed to their craft.
We are losing brilliant engineers and artistes as these children try to fulfil the dreams of their parents.
The psychological trauma caused by such a forceful push on the children has caused irreparable damage.
Some children are now rebelling and refusing to go to university.
In the so-called land of plenty and rights, children are not being allowed to be true to themselves.
Parents are at the forefront of creating frustrated students and depressed professionals lacking passion in their fields.
A generation of grumpy doctors and inefficient lawyers is being created by the selfish parents.
Knowing nothing about the rigours of law and medicine, they have the audacity to frog march their children to these 'prestigious' courses.
Most parents are quick to defend their actions.

"I just want her to be happy," they say.
Children in the Diaspora desperately need to be given the opportunity to go into professions they want.
Gone are those days when one's level of education was determined by the type of degree one has.
Today there are degrees that many of these parents never heard off.
Degrees that will equip their children with skills that will make them game-changers.
A parent knocking on my door with a tired child in tow wanting last-minute tips for his or her interview have sadly become common.
I would rather have the child come alone to seek advice because in most cases the one coming with the parents would rather not be going for the interview.
Mostly, the parents are thinking of money and status.
Doctors sign up to help people but are faced with growing mountains of paperwork, mindless compulsory modules and maddening meetings to satisfy performance indicators that make a mockery of patient-centred care.
Above all, being a doctor is more about the patient than pride.
Many doctors are burnt out, bullied and demoralised.
The work is stressful and demanding.
And these parents have no idea what they are pushing their children into.

A 2013 Beyond Blue survey indicates that doctors have a substantially higher rate of high psychological distress compared to the general population and other professions.

An astonishing quarter have considered suicide, double the comparable figure in other professionals.
Half of lawyers leave the profession before retirement age and most die of stress-related illness or cancer caused by stress which is ignited by work hazards.

These figures are not just statistics – they are my people and some are my friends.
My professional landscape is strewn with doctors and lawyers in trouble with alcohol and prescription drugs, doctors and lawyers with broken relationships and sick of work.

I have attended funerals of doctors and lawyers who left the world too soon because they could not handle the pressures that come with the professions.
A career in medicine has vast and varied promises but the happiest doctors I know have narrowed it down to one thing; medicine not merely as work, but a calling.

If people get into medicine because they love it, it doesn't melt away the challenges but it puts them in perspective.
Passion makes the hard days bearable.
If you are a parent and your child desperately wants to study medicine, the greatest favour you could do is help him/her distinguish between a job and a vocation.

On the other hand, if your child is reluctant to take up law or medicine, step back for a moment and consider the statistics.
Forcing your child to become a doctor or lawyer might turn out to be the worst parenting decision you ever make.
Studying law or medicine at institutions such as Cambridge or Oxford universities is not the ultimate in achievement.
 Many parents in Diaspora got their status to stay in the UK because they had to fill the shortage areas in the employment sector. So many of them took nursing as it was the major field which was paying and indeed popular with immigration. Because of that many households you come across in the UK their children are nurses or are doing nursing by force. They have to be thrushes into the medical jungle of nursing only to please the parents.

Many students are consciously discouraged from doing any other course except law or medicine.
The talks on dinner tables short trips and anywhere will be indoctrinating there children with the law ideas and medicine.

Some parents start calling their children some names like barrister, judge or anything which helps them to prepare for that course.

Another student of Zimbabwean origin had strict Zimbabwean parents who informed her that she was going to major in Biology or another scientific field and then go to medical school. She wanted to get a degree in Housing and become a council employee.
So she majored in Bio and took all the classes needed for the Housing degree while telling her parents that she could handle the course load but had no plans of majoring in housing and was just interested. Maybe a minor would help her get into medical school.
Now, here's the thing: she was absolutely prepared (emotionally, financially, logistically) to get disowned on the spot. She went to university to do housing but the parents never gave her any chance. She got too upset. One day she decided life was not worthy it and she penned a goodby letter to her parents. She committed suicide over the pressure parents were putting on her to do medicine.

Many children are seconds away from suicide because of the pressure which is unreasonable. Many parents are still in the old belief that Law and Medicine are better courses. I have seen lawyers who are suffering and that they are regretting having done law. I have seen medical doctors who are roasting wire cause of the choices of their parents.
Parents must not make their children think that they are not loved and instead only  love the idea of having a high-achieving child, instead.

Vazet2000@yahoo.co.Uk
Source - Dr Masimba Mavaza
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.