Imposing careers on wards may ruin their future, lead to distress, substance abuse – Psychologists, Doctors



Uba Group

Choosing a career path as a young adult could be challenging, owing to the lack of experience of the real world or life after school. While some parents go through guidance and counseling, others choose career paths for their children even against their wishes.

This may turn out fine for some, but the reverse is the case for others as some struggle to make a meaning out of their professional lives.

Findings have shown that some children have reluctantly studied varying academic courses, which were imposed on them by their parents but ended up dumping the certificates for their parents. Institutions of learning are expected to nurture, equip and prepare young persons for life after school.

This life requires the beneficiary to search for a job, start a business, raise a family or further his education. Of the above, the most sought after option is that of securing a job upon graduation. But this can only be possible if the person involved does well as an undergraduate.

Sadly, many undergraduates find it difficult to cope because they were forced to study certain courses by their parents. This has made some young adults to resist such attempts.

Even with rising civilisation, it was gathered that some parents still imposed supposedly lucrative career paths on their children as against the ones they classified as nonlucrative, forgetting that some careers which were hitherto unpopular, have turned out to be money spinners.

As the world marked this year’s International Day of Education on January 24, with the theme: “Invest in People, Prioritise Education,” stakeholders have said that many professionals don’t give their best because their careers were taken to satisfy their parents’ decisions.

They stressed that output in productivity and delivery of services would improve once children were able to pursue their career paths without being coerced by their parents.

Among the stakeholders who spoke to The Point in separate interviews included psychologists and other medical practitioners, parents, guardians, students, teachers and professional counsellors. They highlighted the dangers in parents forcing children to study particular courses against their will or going into learning of skills without the approval of the affected young people.


Some undergraduates of Nigerian tertiary institutions have revealed that they stood against attempts by their parents and guardians to make them embrace certain careers, which were against their dreams. “I chose the course I studied by myself after struggles with my parents.

My father wanted me to study Medicine but I refused and told him that I wanted to study Pharmacy. Studying Pharmacy has been interesting because I have been coping and I think that’s the best.

I know many people may not have the guts to do this and that’s why some of my classmates are struggling to make any meaning out of the course they are studying because it was chosen for them by their parents,” a student of Pharmacy, Francis Abe, said.

Mary Alade, a student, who urged parents to allow their children follow the paths they want in life, explained that her parents had wanted her to become a lawyer and assisted her to fill her UTME form. But after two years, Alade revealed that she had to change her course of study from Law to English Language. “In 2018, when I wanted to sit for my UTME, it was my mother who filled the form I obtained because she had already told me that she would love me to become a lawyer.

I never liked the idea but I couldn’t question her decision. I wanted to be a Mass communicator. I was offered admission into the Faculty of Law at the Obafemi Awolowo University. But, along the line, I got tired of forcing myself to do what I did not like.

I changed my course after the first year to English Language, since there is no Mass Communication in OAU. I feel that parents should allow their children to choose their career because it is their life. Parents should only give guidance,” she said.


A parent, Mrs Temitope Obayin, said many graduates don’t want to practise what they studied in schools because they were compelled to study it, and warned parents against imposition of career paths onwards.


She said, “Psychologists and teachers have advised parents that it is not the best to choose careers for your children and we have even seen people who their parents imposed a profession or career on and at the end of the day, they went through the career and dumped the certificates on the parents’ desks and they went their way.

So, that means their four or so years spent on campus is wasted. “A parent may have a preference for a profession, maybe they wanted to go for it and they couldn’t and now want their children to take it up.

But you have to check the children’s flair, check the subjects the child is doing well in and then you can encourage the child along the career. If the child is not willing, then let the child choose because it is better. It is really annoying seeing young people graduating and cannot practise what they studied.

I feel parents should desist from the attitude of imposing a course on their children.” Speaking in a similar vein, another parent, Mr Michael Olatunbosun, explained that some parents decide their children’s careers so that people could recognise them with some classical professions such as Medicine, Law, and Engineering, among others.

He urged fellow parents to stop choosing for their children but guide them after studying their patterns. “I believe parents should not be forcing career paths on their children. Rather, parents should be more open-minded and observant. It is this pattern that will help you to guide.

Don’t forget they have guardians and counsellors in their schools who will counsel them but parents should support what the professional career counsellors do. “Today, career choices are very fluid. Someone can even study Biochemistry in the university and end up to be a very prolific writer.

I don’t decide for my children. I have a daughter who has told me that she wants to study English in the university and become a journalist like me. So, parents should not choose for their children, rather, they should guide them,” he stressed. For Gloria Okolo, a parent, the shortfall in demand for what she termed as lesser courses is responsible for parents’ insistence on some professions that easily get patron age.

“Imagine spending so much to pay school fees and a child is telling you that he wants to study Music, knowing that when the child comes out of school, job opportunities might not be readily available for them. So, the parents might want to push the child to study Medicine,” she explained.

Others who shared their thoughts with The Point, including Mrs Stephania Olagunju and Miss Gloria Mbah, said the country would develop if professionals discharged their duties passionately as they argued that some professionals were not fulfilled in their respective careers because it wasn’t what they actually wanted. “Nigerians don’t follow passion, they only go for what is available.

Most people do a lot of jobs not meant for them. Most parents choose payable jobs for their children because some jobs appear easy to get than others. People care about well-paid job and not passion.

A lot of people who never cared to be teachers are spending huge money to secure the jobs. I am a hair stylist today but it was never what I bargained for. Most of us chose our courses because our parents are the ones to sponsor the education. I chose my career myself after knowing what it entails for me to actualise my dream,” Mbah said.


Medical practitioners have warned parents and guardians against choosing career paths for their wards, saying it has severe health effects, ranging from depression, anxiety disorder, and psychological distress, to abuse of dangerous substances. Dr Akande Ayodeji Majek, a Consultant Psychiatrist, said, “When a parent is enforcing or coercing a child into a career path, to start with, that is an authoritarian kind of parenting, which has been categorically stated as a bad type of parenting.

Studies have shown that children raised under an authoritarian style of parenting come down with various forms of psychological distress, ranging from low self-esteem to anxiety problem, in which they go into psycho-active substance use. “So, forcing a child into a career path will result into the child not putting his mind into the course or career because, first, it is not his area of interest.

By the time the child is not putting his mind into it, the results would not be good and by the time the child is coming with very bad results, that would continue to degrade his or self-esteem and before you know it, it’s like a cycle, it just keeps repeating itself over and over again.

“The health challenges that may come out of it is that such a child may go into depression because he doesn’t like what he is doing and such a child may see himself or herself as a failure in the society and may sink into depression. Another thing is anxiety problem. The child will be scared of even coming close to his parents and might develop panic disorder, social phobia and generalised social problems.

“Another thing that is causing a problem in our society today is substance misuse. Now, the child is not seeing his or her parents as ones he can confide in and doesn’t trust the parents who have forced him or her into what he or she doesn’t want in the first place, so, the child may find solace in friends who are into substance abuse and that’s one of the major things causing substance misuse among youths and adolescents.

The child may exhibit effects of terrible mental illness. The best is to allow the child to make an informed decision and not force their choice on him.” Other medical practitioners including Dr Toyosi Afolabi and Dr Kemi Agoyi said some children forced into career paths had been affected psychologically for the rest of their lives. “It can affect them psychologically for the rest of their lives.

I know I have heard stories of people who their parents forced to study Medicine and then they finished and handed them (parents) the certificate. I know of a senior colleague who went on to the movie industry after finishing medical school. So, some people do experience some psychological issues and even depression because of the time wasted fulfilling their parents’ wishes instead of theirs,” Afolabi said.

Agoyi said coercing a child to go through a skill or career he or she did not want had “a wide rage and spectrum of mental health related issues that could translate into physical harm” and urged parents to desist from such act.