Learning the art of parenting our children is a lifelong process where both parties learn something new every day. The pace of working is different. There is a big gap in the age groups.
As 45 – 50-year-old parents we are just about settling down. We are now able to lead a comfortable life after having struggled for a good double decade. We have experienced a reasonable measure of success in our careers and now earn decent salaries. We feel we are blessed because we are working for a good organization.
And we want our children to follow the same pattern that we followed in our lives. We are happy when our children get great starting salaries. We are relieved to realize that they will not have to worry about inflation. And just when we feel that we are finally done with all our parental duties – they will quietly come and inform us that they are planning to quit their jobs ?.
This shocks us out of our wits. All our professional expertise and experience comes to naught when it comes to dealing with our own children. Learning to hide our anxiety becomes the top priority.
We are learning to reflect on our own experiences. We take a trip down memory lane. We realize that we too wanted to dabble in different things before we finally decided to pursue a profession that we were passionate about. A thousand questions haunt us.
Job hopping – is there a right time to do it? Why should we do it? Is it worth it? Why do youngsters hesitate to seek the counsel of their parents and other seniors before they decide to quit their jobs? Does such a thing like a dream job into exist?
What are the things that we need to factor in to finally conclude that this is what we want in life? Do we get all the things that we want in life – all the time? Why do our children dislike making compromises? Is it better to allow our children to make their own mistakes and learn from them or is it better to stop them before they make such gross errors related to their career? Are the parents always right and the children always wrong?
The answers to all those questions will depend on the context and the background of every family. Suffice is to say, that there is some deep learning to be derived from any decision that our youngsters take.
Youngster A: gave up her lucrative career because she did not enjoy her work despite the decent salary she earned. She took a year off to prepare for a couple of competitive exams because she felt that this would be in alignment with her passion. She did not get through the competitive exams and now is finding it difficult to get another job. She finally decided to help her father with his family business.
Learning that she derived: Money cannot buy happiness. Passion may not always feed you. Competition is stiff. The ideal scenario and the real scenario are two separate entities. There is enough learning for us even in our family enterprise. She accepts that she would never have considered joining her dad’s business if she had not suffered this kind of a setback.
She is amazed and impressed by the thriving enterprise that her dad set up and is learning something new every day. She is using her technical expertise to promote her dad’s enterprise. WOW!
Youngster B: was newly married. She relocated to Singapore. She found a decent job in a bank. She loved the work but was unable to balance the long working hours and the commute and her home. She was unable to manage the stress level and decided to take a sabbatical. A year later, she was still looking out for a job. She finally managed to find a job in a private firm. The work is completely different, but she finds it fascinating.
She is still considering looking out for a better job, but she is happy with the current scenario too because she is able to balance her home and her career without any stress. She feels she can progress at her own pace in this kind of an informal organization. She realizes that she is learning something different here and likes what she is doing right now. WOW again!
Learning that she derived: A sense of balance makes a huge difference in our life. Our happiness quotient goes up by several notches when we are less stressed out. A great salary may be the icing on the cake but is not the ‘be all and the end all’ of life. She sometimes regrets her decision of quitting such a well-paying job but is happy as of now with her current job.
Youngster C: was forced to quit her job every 3 or 5 years. She had no choice in the matter because her spouse worked for a multinational company where such moves were a part of the contract. She spent a good three or six months trying to find a new job in a new city.
The frustration of remaining idle drove her crazy. But she pursued other skills till she landed a job. Every job that she finally landed in a new city was better than the previous one. The skills that she mastered along the way helped create unique opportunities for her.
Learning that she derived: Opportunities come to us in various ways. When we work with an open mind and a willing heart, we infuse passion in our work. It takes a little time to create a reputation for ourselves in any organization. But a good worker is always recognized. The happiness that we derive from our professions flows into our personal lives too.
There are umpteen instances that we could all think of here. Our youngsters hesitate to discuss such things with us because we are more cautious in our approach. We may have their best interests at heart, but at some point, we need to let go of them too.
They know what they are doing. They may not know what they are doing, but they will most certainly learn something along the way. Things may not work out the way we want them too. But what is the harm of trying out something new. A man in his mid-40s recently quit his job to join another firm. He had two young children to take care of and the entire family had to relocate to a different city because of his decision.
But surely he must have weighed the pros and cons before taking such a decision. Perhaps his top priority was a better pay scale. Perhaps his top priority was to spend more time with his family. The current firm has weekends off. In the previous firm he had to work extremely long hours and rarely got to spend time with this children.
Youngsters and people of all ages understand that the times are changing. Instead of learning to live within our means, both partners work so that they can lead a better quality of life. Job hopping, taking breaks, quitting to work from home, setting up our own enterprises or simply retiring ………are all personal choices. There is nothing starkly white or deeply black here. We all need to do what we feel is the best.
We cannot and should not impose our will on our youngsters. They are bound to take all the risks that they feel are worth it. With or without our permission. They are youngsters after all. And to give them their due -they will willingly discuss it with us if we just listen to them neutrally. Most of the time all they need is a sounding board. They most certainly don’t need a big moral sermon from us.
As parents, let us learn to keep all our anxieties and insecurities and worries to ourselves. Let us learn to have more faith in our children and give them our unstinting support at all times. Things will work out for them. They always have. They always will. For every one of us. There was and never is any doubt about it.