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Which is worse on a kid?

CatriaCatria Registered User Posts: 11,349 Senior Member
edited December 2012 in Parents Forum
Here are two hypothetical kids that want to do a liberal arts/pure science major. Due to their misunderstanding of jobs that can be gotten with a liberal arts/pure science degree, the parents of both kids try to influence their kids, but at different stages in their respective educations.

The parents of kid A try to bully their kid into doing a pre-law, a pre-med, an engineering or an accounting major (all of which are majors kid A dislikes) rather than a liberal arts/pure science major.

Meanwhile, the parents of kid B would let their S/D do a liberal arts/pure science major, one that the kid likes doing, as an undergraduate, and kid B still get grades good enough to get into graduate school, gains some research experience, and does well on the GRE, but once grad school comes around the corner, his/her parents try to bully their kid into doing a thesis in a subfield the kid dislikes. (For example, being bullied into condensed matter for a kid that prefers astronomy/cosmology)

Which situation is worse?
Post edited by Catria on
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Replies to: Which is worse on a kid?

  • bovertinebovertine Registered User Posts: 3,303 Senior Member
    This sounds vaguely familiar.
  • sylvan8798sylvan8798 Registered User Posts: 6,765 Senior Member
    Kid A wants to do a pure science degree. Since med school doesn't require a specific major, and pure science is a reasonable pre-med path, he simply informs his parents that he will attempt to fulfill the pre-med requirements along the path of his science degree.

    Kid B is an adult, not a kid, about to enter grad school (more likely, has already done a year or more if he has reached the point of choosing a thesis topic). He tells his parents to buzz off.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 76,728 Senior Member
    Kid A makes the motions of being pre-law (which has no major or course requirements) to satisfy the parents. Then s/he does poorly on the LSAT and informs the parents that paying $$$$$ for a low ranked law school in order to become an unemployed lawyer makes no sense. (Alternatively, s/he makes the pre-med motions by taking pre-med courses alongside whatever major s/he chooses, but then does poorly on the MCAT and not getting into any medical school.)

    Kid B is presumably in a funded PhD program, so the parents have no financial leverage over his/her choice of studies. The parents probably have no idea what the specialties in his/her major are anyway.
  • CatriaCatria Registered User Posts: 11,349 Senior Member
    I know a pre-med, or pre-law, can be just about any major if one chooses the electives properly. But engineering and accounting is far more binding than the other two, and yet, some parents would bully their kids into engineering or accounting, rather than pre-law or pre-med. (Quebecer parents would bully their kids into law or medicine rather than pre-law or pre-med)

    However, building a list of grad schools to apply for is made with a thesis topic in mind, even more so with Canadian grad schools, where the topic selection is made prior to matriculation (but after acceptance) so the situation of kid B is not universal.
  • PizzagirlPizzagirl Registered User Posts: 40,488 Senior Member
    The problem here is the parental bullying, Catria.

    What kind of loser dysfunctional parents "bully" a grad student into a certain thesis choice? I can't even comprehend such a thing.
  • teriwttteriwtt Registered User Posts: 12,532 Senior Member
    I can't even comprehend such a thing.

    I can't either, but unfortunately those kinds of parents are out there.
  • momfrommemomfromme Registered User Posts: 2,669 Senior Member
    We each have one life to live. And we have to live our own lives, not the lives our parents desire, particularly down to the choice of field, career, or thesis topic.

    If parents manage to raise kids who become adults with intellectual curiosity, good work habits, and ethics and manners, they will figure out the best choices for themselves.
  • coureurcoureur Registered User Posts: 11,386 Senior Member
    Which is worse, bullying A or bullying B?

    Doesn't sound like much of a choice to me.
  • SteveMASteveMA Registered User Posts: 6,079 Senior Member
    Parent A needs to figure out that there is no such thing as a pre-law, pre-med major and most pre-med majors are BIOLOGY majors--something like 80%. Engineering is one of the worst majors for pre-med because it's so hard and getting into med school is all about your GPA/MCAT score. I think parent A needs to understand that unless the student takes a specific Liberal Arts major, meaning the diploma says BA in Liberal Arts that the student is getting a BA or a BS in Biology or BA/BS in Chemistry, not a "liberal arts degree".

    Anytime a parent bullies a child it's a bad situation so one isn't better than the other.
  • sally305sally305 Registered User Posts: 7,604 Senior Member
    ^Agreed. Both are bad options. The question should be, "What's worse, forcing your child into doing what YOU want or allowing him/her to make his own decisions and thus having a good lifelong relationship with him/her?"
  • absweetmarieabsweetmarie Registered User Posts: 1,905 Senior Member
    I'm with Pizzagirl; the bullying per se is the problem. Both hypotheticals are "worse" than the case where a parent provides guidance and support for a kid as he or she finds his or her own path.

    As to the cases of hypothetical Kid A and Kid B, one hopes most Kid Bs are emotionally past the point of being susceptible to parental bullying. It is difficult, in any case, to imagine a Kid B who is academically mature enough to be considering graduate school who is likely to be swayed by his or her parents' ideas regarding what "subfield" to pursue. So the situation with Kid A is "worse" in your rather odd hypothetical, catria. But I cannot help but ask: Is there a real-life issue behind the hypothetical?
  • bovertinebovertine Registered User Posts: 3,303 Senior Member
    Is there a fancy-schmancy school involved here? That data point is critical. :)
  • GladGradDadGladGradDad Registered User Posts: 2,818 Senior Member
    This sounds like the game - "which would you choose - cut off your hand or cut off your foot (and variations)".

    There are two points here - the parents bullying, and the student not manning up and allowing himself/herself to be bullied by the parents.
  • boysx3boysx3 Registered User Posts: 5,164 Senior Member
    I've never understood the predilection of constructing such neat and exclusive boxes. There are jobs for people who do all kinds of traditional, non-vocational liberal arts majors...the jobs just don't have little labels attached to them like "engineer" or "accountant" or "doctor". But there are jobs. Sales, marketing, analyst, co-ordinator.....these are still jobs and people earn good salaries and have good lives.

    My niece was an English major at a Big 10 university. She now heads a project team at a prestigious advertising firm. Her friend the history major has an amazing job with an executive recruitment firm.

    We all realize that the parental "bullying' is out of concern for their children's futures. These parents need to be educated on the fact that there is a great big world out there.

    And when it comes to grad school, whether a terminal masters program (generally not funded) or a phD program, the student should not be consulting with the parents at all, but with his professors and other professional advisers, because they are the ones who understand the relevant field and the opportunities available in it.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 76,168 Senior Member
    Oh please. This discussion has been had here a gazzilion times.

    Just FYI...just because a kid majors in engineering doesn't mean that kid will ever BE an engineer. I know first hand. Our kid chose engineering as a major and does not now want to be a engineer.
This discussion has been closed.