Here's Why You Can't View Parents Advice Objectively and Without Emotions

Raghuram Sukumar Career 10 Comments

In recent articles, we are talking about impact of parents on your career and my parents destroyed my career.

parents advise

Gunnar Fox – Author of University Success Plan send me this article,  explaining why students in college find it difficult to view parents advice clearly, objectively and without emotions.

It is sometimes difficult to view the parents advise clearly and objectively, without emotion…

Here is why:

Our inherent respect for our parents may make even their ill-considered or rash advice seem wise and important.

We are hardwired to respect our parents. Generally speaking, it is good for all in society for the youth to respect their elders.

When we disagree or rebel against our parents there is always the nagging suspicion that they are ultimately right because they know us best.

We have seen that they are right too many times in our youth. So when they stop being right, and when our wisdom comes to exceed theirs in some areas of endeavor, it can be confusing, or depressing, or exhilirating.

Often our parents’ advice may be based on their goals for us, not on our own goals.

Imposing your own goals on an unreceptive person will result in some kind of failure. They may in some cases achieve the goal but they are unlikely to experience self-fulfillment.

Some parents are unskilled in the art of giving appropriate feedback.

Humans are imperfect. Parents are human.

Parents may have unresolved ego needs that they are seeking to sort out through their children.

This may cause them to heap grossly exaggerated praise upon you because they cannot see you as you are: a person with flaws. Or they may lash you with equally extreme, vicious criticism, because they are unhappy with themselves — and see you as an extension of themselves who must also be criticized harshly.

To make matters worse, sometimes one parent may exalt your drawing as a brilliant Picasso… while the other one will tell you it’s hideous rubbish.

A good parent knows your talents probably lie somewhere in between. If you have parents who love and accept you for being exactly who you are, you are fortunate, indeed.

As we become older, we can “choose” new members of our family.

We can seek new sources of information. New mentors. New coaches. And new people with whom to share our lives.

You can never replace a parent. But we all must seek objective sources of guidance beyond our families and beyond our doorsteps.


If you are a student, I would like to know if you listen to your parents advise without getting emotional and thinking from their view point?

If you are a parent, do you know what your kid’s interests are? Before making career decisions for them, did you have an open discussion about their interests and future plans?

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  1. Maybe if we were born into some western society with a different culture we might have sat back relaxed and let our children have the final say.Here with population explosion, less jobs, tag for the less successful, and parental pressure in middle class households define such behavior and what not?

    1. I don’t think Less Jobs and Population weighs a lot. I inclined to think 95% weight goes to tag for less successful and parental pressure.

      Why not this way of thinking – If my kid is doing decent enough with what we forced him to do (BE or MBBS), he could have been more successful by ding what he would have loved to do.

    2. It is an interesting point, Bhooma. Your hypothesis is that Indian parents in general are so concerned about the mere survival and subsistence of their children (and themselves) that they must be overbearing and dictatorial rather than just “sitting back and relaxing” like Western parents who allow their children to have freedom of choice.

      Actually, I can tell you that even Western parents conflict mightily with their children over such matters…

      In fact, my own father was terribly upset with me for choosing to go to law school. In his thinking, “lawyers are people you hire.” He simply did not see lawyers as people of consequence and would have preferred that I follow in his footsteps and pursue engineering. We became estranged over this for a decade (yes, a decade), and did not speak at all. But in the end he accepted what I had told him all along: I would have made the world’s worst, least successful, most unhappy engineer. Which I think is Raghu’s point…

      Imposing one’s will on someone does not always end in success — even when it is your own child, and even when you have all sorts of good intentions.

      As the proverb states, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

  2. Unfortunately, in India, when their ward is school, parents go through the misguided information from other parents in the same school or in their working environment. Because of this parents end up in suggesting the way others peer go. Ideally, parents should speak/understand his ward’s interest, speak to the teachers who teach him the specific subject and take opinion. If required, put ward into counselling before arriving at the carrier path for the loved ones. I did this to my son who was interested in Mechanical Engg. and when his school teacher suggested him to go for Comp. Science due to his strength in analytical thinking. End of the day, I went by the interest shown by my son for which none of us have any regret.

    What one needs to sit back to discuss, understand capabilities and not to take any emotional call.

  3. This comment is not for SUPER RICH & PARENTS with little or no knowledge .
    Parents know about their wards capability. They also work out with the available funds. Indian Parents have to take care of their children till they are employed/ married. No parent will ruin their wards’ future.
    Students are getting carried away by the lectures given at their school premises Educational consultants. They don’t care about the financial position of the parents. I can quote instances where students are repenting for their own decisions and going crazy.
    So it is always better to consult elders,seniors,teachers apart from parents and come to a conclusion after analysis.

    1. Reason being, most parents in India don’t expose their kids to wide variety of activities to see where they show interest and devote time to develop their interest. World class musicians, players and scientist, astronauts are born through interests and parents ability to provided resources for them.

    2. Not sure if I interpret everything about your comment correctly Srivathsa but I totally agree that to ignore the input of parents is surely a mistake in most cases. And I am not counseling that whatsoever.

      Also, just a comment: in my experience, “rich” does not equal “wise.” Many people (particularly in Asia) seem to confuse “rich” not only with “wise,” but also with “smart,” “good,” and “virtuous.” If people have money it must be because they are doing something (and probably everything) right. Truth is, people earn money, and fall into money, for a lot of reasons. Wealth may be a product of wisdom and deserving of a degree of recognition or respect… or not.

      Hi Subham — agreed!

  4. very very true…but in India, theres a lot of insecurity in the parents, and their expectations are skewed towards only a few popular career paths…having parents who would allow you to actually chase your dreams, and be supportive of the hurdles, is really really fortunate

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