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March 06, 2018 Tuesday 03:54:20 PM IST



Lina,a first-year engineering student, was brought in for counselling. She showed symptoms of deep depression, such as sleeplessness, restlessness, lack of appetite, tiredness, crying spells and so on. On further investigation, it was brought to light that fear of the impending exams had triggered the anxiety and depression.


On a closer look, it was revealed that Lina was also on the edge of committing suicide. She disclosed that it was not her idea to study engineering and that it was imposed on her by her parents. Lina was unable to cope with the stress that the new academic environment had brought about in its wake.


Lina’s case was not an exception and the frequency of such cases is alarmingly on the rise. Incidents of suicide, depression, and psychosomatic illnesses, such as asthma, fainting attacks, and headaches, are on the increase. Many a time it is the wrong or forced selection of a professional course that turns out to be the villain of the piece.


However, parents are also responsible for such a sad state of affairs. Children who are forced  to take up a course for which they don’t have any aptitude or interest are likely to get less involved, less focused, and end up performing poorly. Moreover, the fear of not being able to please their parents and “failing” them puts great pressure on the children’s psyche.


Putting a non-competitive child into an intensely competitive career path adversely impacts his or her mental and physical health. Suicide then offers them the last resort to end the misery! Some others take to alcohol, drugs, electronic gadgets, and other deviant escapades.




Excessive parental involvement impairs children’s ability to choose or go in for a career that suits their aptitudes and aspirations. Unlike in Western families, children in the Indian families are more dependent, emotionally and financially. So, there is a greater chance of parental involvement in the career selection process.


Besides, parents’ projections of their unfulfilled career dreams on to their children have many negative consequences. The child’s knowledge and attitude towards a particular career or vocation is learned from parents, that too from early childhood. Much of this learning takes place unconsciously.


Watch out for the following warning signals:


Unrealistic expectations;


Lax approach to homework;


Waiting until the last minute to take decisions;


Promising to work miracles during the ‘next Sem’;


Opting for too many higher-level subjects in spite of poor report from teachers.


Being a part of the career planning process is an investment in your child’s future. Instead of living out your career dreams through your children, let them do the searching; you better be the facilitators. Importantly, in view of their children’s personality traits, parents need to adopt appropriate parenting styles.





Always bear in mind the child’s interests;


Be supportive and encourage child to be realistic;


Identify the child’s strengths and interests early on;


Provide a stimulating environment with ample exposure to different career arenas;


Provide opportunities for career aptitude tests which will help children make well-informed career choices;


Consider important factors such as availability of the course, course fee, placement chances, potential remuneration and so on.




Be involved but not in control


Support but do not dominate


Advise but do not decide.

Psy. Dr. Jose Cletus Plackal

Licensed clinical psychologist, BET-MRT, Jeevas Centre, Aluva, Kerala.

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