Isaac Newton was the father of classical physics. Charles Darwin was the father of evolutionary biology. Most of you would know who those men were. What you may not know is that, had it been left to their parents, they would not have been scientists at all. Let’s talk about Newton first.
Newton’s mother wanted him to abandon school and take care of the farm. It was a practical choice considering those times. However, young Isaac wasn’t too keen about being a farmer. At the farm, he deliberately did a bad job; instead of tending the cattle, he would spend his days reading books and inventing ingenious mechanical devices.
Once when he was supposed to look after the cattle, young Newton let the animals run into the neighbor’s farm and ruin the crops. His mother was hurled into the court and had to pay a fine to cover the damages. He wasn’t turning into the farmer his mother wanted him to be. Eventually, with the involvement of Newton’s uncle, his mother finally agreed to send him back to school. Today we know Isaac Newton as the greatest scientist that ever walked the planet.
While Newton revolted against a forced career choice, Charles Darwin proved to be a bit more submissive to his father. Robert Darwin, a doctor himself, wanted his son to study medicine. So young Charles Darwin was sent to Edinburgh University Medical School—the finest medical college in Britain—where his elder brother Erasmus was already enrolled.
Contrary to his father’s ambitions, Charles found the lectures intolerably dull; the dissection of animals was a horrific sight for him, and he often escaped the place in disgust. Nonetheless, he had a peculiar taste for natural history rather than medicine.
As soon as his father learned about his lack of interest in medicine, young Darwin was presented a second career choice: to be a clergyman which, after a little bit of thought, he accepted. However, before undertaking a vocation as solemn as priesthood, he was enrolled in the Cambridge University for studying arts. At Cambridge, instead of studying arts, Darwin spent his time collecting beetles.
Subsequently, when Charles was nominated for travelling with the Beagles as a naturalist, his father refused to allow him the opportunity. He thought the trip would just be a waste of time for his son. Just like Newton, one of his uncles came to his rescue and the elder Darwin at last agreed to fund the trip for the youngster. The rest, as they say, is history.
Living in the twenty first century, most of us enjoy our individual liberties. Those of us who have had the freedom to choose our professional careers may not realize the battles Newton and Darwin had to wage against their own parents. However, for some readers, it might still be a relevant topic. Some of us might still need to convince our parents about our professional choices. The following seven lessons are intended to cover this subject.
Lesson One: Don’t Underestimate the Value of Your Profession
Your profession is a significant part of your life. Here we are talking about nearly half of your waking hours. Not only this, but a few bad hours at work can also ruin your entire day. And if your job becomes a daily drudgery, your entire life will feel like a waste. Appreciate the value of your professional career; choose it wisely and deliberately. Don’t force yourself or let others force specific career choices onto you.
Lesson Two: Understand Your Parents’ Perspective
Most parents want the best for their kids. And in general, your parents would have more life experiences than you. So before starting any discussion, try to understand and evaluate their perspective. Why are they insisting on certain careers, or why are they stopping you from certain careers? Are you being short-sighted? Could this be an emotional bubble?
Before starting any sort of argument, put on your parents’ shoes, and try to understand and evaluate their views. Not only would this help you to get more clarity about your own choices, it will also help you prepare for a fruitful discussion.
Lesson Three: Do Your Homework
Now that you have understood and evaluated your parents’ viewpoints, and assuming you are still convinced about your own preferences, start preparing for a dialogue. Gather information and examples in favor of your arguments. Anticipate and prepare for questions and counter-arguments. Rehearse with a sincere friend, if needed. Earmark a time and spot so that the discussion remains private. The better prepared you go, the more likely are you to convince your parents.
Lesson Four: Remain Assertive without Being Aggressive
Once you find the perfect conditions to strike up a conversation, start with some general topic and gradually get to the point. Regardless of the response—which could be cold and discouraging—do not lose your composure; remain calm and assertive. Be cautious of raising your voice as it will weaken your argument. Even if your parents disagree, treat them respectfully. Avoid being sarcastic; do not hint about generation gap, for instance.
If you feel that the discussion is not moving as you had expected, leave it open for future. If you see any ray of hope towards the end, allow your parents some time to rethink. It is an important matter and may not be concluded in a single sitting. Be patient and let it take its time.
Lesson Five: Don’t Take Their Disapproval to Heart
Even if you fail miserably in convincing your near and dear ones, even if they reject your opinions vehemently, don’t take this to your heart. Don’t react abruptly. Take your time to prepare a response for the next time. Yes, there is always a next time. But this time, get back to your parents more wisely and more convincingly.
Lesson Six: Keep a Plan B Ready
Learning from Newton’s and Darwin’s life stories, think about any relatives or family friends who can influence your parents; take those aides in confidence. This could be your plan B. In fact, this could be your plan A; instead of talking to your parents directly, your aunt or uncle could present your case as your advocates. Work out which should be a better option in your situation.
Lesson Seven: The Final Choice Is Still Yours
In case all your efforts fail, you have one of the two choices: be like Charles Darwin who submitted himself to the career his father chose for him or follow the footsteps of Isaac Newton who forced his mother to concede her decision. The final choice is still yours. Good luck!