LIVING

Parental Expectations: What My Parents Wanted Me To Be When I Grew Up

08/30/2012 05:11 EDT | Updated 08/31/2012 02:24 EDT
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Do your parents like your job?

It may sound like a silly question -- after all, you're the one working every day, not them -- but as it turns out, your parents' expectations of where you would end up could have had more of an impact on your eventual career path than you believed.

As much as parents really just want their kids to be happy, they also can't help but be human and put a few expectations on them as well. As a French photographer showed earlier this year, those dreams can range from a ballet dancer to a superhero.

According to a 2012 study from Child Trends DataBank, parental expectations of how far children will go in school could be the greatest determinant of children's achievements, with immigrants parents showing the highest expectations (81 per cent expected their children to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher).

As the school year starts again next week, we asked staff members of AOL Canada for their own recollections of their parents' expectations, and were happily surprised to discover they covered the gamut from "be a doctor" to "piano playing will always pay the bills." What did your parents want you to be? Add your own slide, or let us know in the comments below.

What My Parents Wanted Me To Be

Piano Teacher

My father survived the aftermath of World War II by playing piano in espresso bars and translating for US forces in Europe. He always used to say, “No matter what happens in life if you know how to play, you can always teach piano.” Wise words, but for a kid who hated to practice, not that motivating somehow.

-Ilona Biro, Walletpop Editor, AOL Canada

Medical Field

My parents wanted me to be a doctor -- actually anything in the medical field. I remember getting a Barbie on Christmas that was a doctor, my mom buying me a doctor costume for Halloween and constantly bragging about her cousin's wife's brother's son's best friend who was also a doctor. And when I was growing up, hearing countless 'success' stories of rich doctors and how happy their lives were. Did I mention how rich they were? Disclaimer: yes, my parents did care about me having a secure job, partly because they've worked labour jobs in Canada for over 25 years.

-Arti Patel, Associate Editor, Lifestyle, The Huffington Post Canada

Secure

My in-laws always told my husband and his brothers to find something that they loved to do and then find a way to get paid for doing it. Three of them have managed to take their love of computers and make careers out of it.

For my sister and I, our dad always encouraged us to find a career that we would be able to support ourselves with and never have to rely on a man. I don’t recall any discussions on finding something that you really loved to do. : )

-Michelle Edwards-Boldt, Business Manager, Cultural Ambassador, AOL Canada

Anything But ...

Surprisingly, my mom didn't push me to be a doctor -- I think she just didn't want me to be a hairdresser is pretty much it.

-Lisa Yeung, Managing Editor, Lifestyle, The Huffington Post Canada

University Degree

All my parents wanted was for me to go and finish university. In my mom's eyes that made me a "somebody". I was the first person in my family to do so, so anything after that was a bonus! The fact that I have a Director title gives her enough bragging rights to last her a lifetime!

-Marieta Mendoza, Director, Human Resources, AOL Canada

Artist

My father was a musician, my mother an artist, so you can imagine the household we grew up in! Our small home was filled with "installations" that my mother was working on, nude paintings and very interesting sculptures with background music from Miles Davis, Willie Nelson, The Ramones and Crowded House (to name a few). Growing up I just wanted to be "normal" like the other families in my neighbourhood -- but now that I look back I am thankful for being introduced to so many forms of arts, culture and expression.

In university I had decided to study Aboriginal Rights and Law. My mom is aboriginal so she approved of that, however, law was a shock to them…they thought they would raise the next artist, musician or even circus performer – not a lawyer!

After graduating I felt that law was maybe not right for me, an internship at a labour law firm convinced me of that. So, marketing it was – a happy medium between creative (like my parents) and corporate. Everyone wins!

-Kira LeBlanc, PR & Marketing Specialist, AOL Canada

Journalist

Funny story -- my parents actually wanted me to be a journalist (a broadcast journalist specifically). I think it had something to do with my constant need for attention and my never-ending line of questioning. I resisted for a long time -- wasn't about to let them control me, I'm going to find myself, etc. -- but as it happens, they were right, as parents so often are. Except about those matchy patterned outfits they made me wear. They were wrong about those.

-Devon Murphy, Associate Blogs Editor, The Huffington Post Canada

Dentist

I wanted to be a poet, but my dad told me (in his Polish accent) that you don’t make any money as a poet until after you’re dead.

He then told me that I MUST be a dentist, because there will always be a need for them and they make solid money. I responded by saying I don’t want to look in strangers’ mouths for my entire life. He responded by saying looking in peoples’ mouths is better than spending life in the gutter with a bottle of alcohol in a paper bag.

-Chris Jancelewicz, Entertainment Editor, The Huffington Post Canada

Prime Minister

My parents wanted me to be the Prime Minister of Canada. I gave them false hope when instead of setting up a lemonade stand like normal kids, I set up a lemonade stand that doubled as political satire. Inspired by CBC Radio's Double Exposure I would do impressions of the leaders of the day while neighbours sipped their drinks. I was famous for my Jean Chrétien and Lucien Bouchard.

-Michael Bolen, Politics Editor, The Huffington Post Canada

Lawyer

I come from an entirely dental family (my mom, dad and sister are all in the business -- I even have a 92-year-old great uncle who still practices), but I was never pushed toward teeth. Instead, thanks to my rather argumentative nature and my ability to read really quickly, my parents always believed (and probably still believe) I should be a lawyer. As far as I'm concerned, being a journalist is like being a lawyer -- digging for information, getting to ask intrusive questions, doing a ton of reading -- just far more fun.

-Rebecca Zamon, Living Editor, The Huffington Post Canada

Not The Army

My parents were devastated when I joined the Army, which was made worse by the fact I had to get their signature because I was only 17. Heartbroken but wanting to be supportive, they signed. But years later, when I got into journalism school, my mom told me that as a youngster she'd always wanted to be a journalist but just was never able to pursue her dream. She never shared that tidbit with until then.

-Pablo Richard Fernandez, News Editor, The Huffington Post Alberta

Doctor

My parents never shoehorned me into a specific career while I was growing up, but many of my cousins said they were going to grow up to be doctors. So at the time I gave into peer pressure and told my folks I wanted to be a doctor too. It made my parents happy to hear that and I guess I gave them the expectation that their oldest son would eventually be known as Dr. Trinh.

Then I learned how hard high-school chemistry was.

So I did a 180 and decided to try my hand at journalism. That freaked out my mom, but my dad told me he was cool with it. His only criteria was that when I grew up I'd find a job that would make me happy, put food on the table and give back to society. Years later I'm now working at Huffington Post Canada.

-Brian Tien Trinh, News Intern, The Huffington Post Canada

Writer

In my mother's words: "I wanted you to be a strong independent woman who could look after herself . You were very goal-oriented at a young age and I knew you would be successful at whatever you chose to do. When in high school I thought you might be a writer -- a news writer and travel, or a novelist because you are so imaginative and such a good writer."

-Jacqueline Delange, Associate Editor, The Huffington Post Canada/AOL Canada

Engineer

My dad, the engineer, wanted me to join the business. He drilled multiplication tables into me, helped me with plenty of school science projects. In his worst imagination, I'd do something like what my grandfather did while my dad grew up in Hong Kong. My grandfather, who I never met, was a writer, novelist and journalism teacher, a line of work that didn't exactly make for a comfortable living in the post-Second World War years. Now that I'm a journalist, I see in my dad what I and my grandfather shared: A thirst for knowledge, an interest in what's going on in the world around me and I see the history buff in him confirm one thing: I was always meant to go into the family business -- and my dad's actually proud of that.

-Kenny Yum, Managing Editor, The Huffington Post Canada

A "Professional"

My parents were stereotypical Asian parents who wanted me (and my brother and sister) to go to university and choose something that would be considered a “professional”…i.e. doctor, lawyer, accountant, etc. Going into the arts or joining the circus would have been not only have been frowned upon but they would have outright said “you can’t do that!”

Last year during the controversy of Amy Chua’s book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”, a friend sent me a link to a couple of articles about her extreme parenting approach. Although I didn’t read the book, some of the rules she lived by were also used by my parents: no sleepovers, no playdates, discipline in school, less than an “A” was not good enough. Growing up (born and raised in Toronto) surrounded by Western, Anglo friends made my mother look like the tough, angry parent who didn’t let me do anything fun. My way of working around the rules was getting straight As and using it as leverage to go out with my friends and “hang out” (highly frowned upon).

I ended up going to Queen’s for a Bachelor of Commerce degree (big points), but when I graduated I tried to get as far away as possible from a bank or accounting firm. I’m happy with the direction I took (worked for a magazine at Rogers as my first job) and have stayed in media the whole time. I have the opportunity to play a business role but be surrounded by journalists and creative people which keeps me happy.

-Vivian Ip, Head of Agency Development and Sales Operations, AOL Canada

Business Woman

My mother wanted me to become a lawyer or a business women or a director of something. I played the role of lawyer in a play at school, which made my mother very proud, and I became a business woman quite early on, from working in a bank to managing a team at AOL. Today I’m in sales and I think she would be very proud of me.

My father always told me to do what makes me happy, and to follow my heart. I tried to combine both of their good advice and do my very best every day.

-Maryse Huet, Account Executive, AOL Canada

Lawyer

My dad always said I should be a lawyer because I always had opinions about everything (and excuses), and I would defend them very passionately. But otherwise, as long as it wasn't being a fashion designer or musician, they were happy.

-Tamy Emma Pepin, Blogs Editor, Le Huffington Post Québec

Doctor

My family wanted me to be a doctor. It's not just some Asian immigrant stereotype. I come from a family of doctors. Three of my dad's brothers are doctors. My dad would've been one but one botched exam cost him entry to medical school. So when I showed some early aptitude for math and the sciences, my parents were thrilled. Sadly, that faded and I just never got the passion for medicine and I'm probably still a bit squeamish about blood. The whole being a nerd thing never really went away though.

-Ron Nurwisah, Community Manager, The Huffington Post Canada

Business Man

My dad keeps telling me he wants me to be more like my brother … love you dad. Really though, he would always steer me into the direction of business. That’s what he wanted me to pursue in university.

Anecdotally, I took radio and sound engineering in school because I had a big interest in music (or the art of recording music) -- I played guitar and what have you. The plan was to take my schooling and end up working in media or post-production in sound for film. Though they didn’t say it, my parents were very concerned I was going to try and foray that into a job as a musician i.e., struggling artist. I had zero intention of this because I suck as a musician, but, a mother’s ears couldn’t discern that.

So, at the end of the day they’re just relieved I’m not a musician and they can tell the extended family that I’m in “computers” or “marketing.”

PS – My father was probably right.

-Ian Dorian, Product Manager, The Huffington Post Canada/AOL Canada