There's more than one choice

There's more than one choice


Ask Your Counsellor

Dear Madam,

I am a 14-year-old student. I like science and maths, but I like to do many other things like painting and music. So, I am not sure which subjects to take up in college. My parents feel that I lack focus, I am a bit confused. Is it necessary to have a formal degree to succeed in life?



Dear James,

Unfortunately, there are many doors that will not open for you unless you have a formal degree. So yes, I don’t think you should take the route of not getting a formal degree. However, what that degree should be is something you have complete control over.

Maybe you should take the help of a career counsellor who can narrow down your choices and suggest career options that will be a good match for your skill set and strengths. It is great that you have many interests and options. However, you still have time and don’t necessarily need to zero in on one thing just yet. Explore your choices, enjoy your varied interests, make the most of your present. And remember, that there can be more than one right choice.


Dear Madam,

My son is 15 years old and of late, he has started disliking me and opposes whatever I do. He is a bright student but binge-watches TV and online videos. We end up fighting over this almost every day. I am a bit anxious about this and even thought of visiting a counsellor. But he is not ready to come with us. What can we do?



Dear Salima,

Please remember that adolescents need to separate their identity from that of their parents. In this process of finding their own identity and figuring out who they are and who they want to be, they distance themselves from their parents and there are often arguments and disagreements. What you are experiencing is nothing new, or unique to you and your relationship with your child. All adolescents go through it, and all parents are at the receiving end of it. This is probably not so much about being anti-you, as it is about understanding themselves and creating space for themselves. Don’t interpret it as an assault on you as much as a normal phase of growth.

When you start understanding it like that, you will be able to communicate better, without taking the disagreements personally. When you are able to communicate better and in a way that is non-threatening, and non-judgemental to your adolescent, you will be better able to define boundaries and set limits around behaviour that is not acceptable.

Being anxious about your child’s welfare is also a normal part of being a parent. However, I do feel that all parents should deal with their anxieties outside of the normal parent-child relationship. I would urge you to seek counselling support for yourself to help you handle the situation in a more positive way. The counselling you need will be different from your son, so even if your son does not go, you can go. If you change the way you handle situations, your son’s responses can also change. All the best.


Dear Madam,

I am a 10th standard student and my parents are planning to put me in a hostel next year. They feel that it will help me in many ways, from improving discipline to socialising. But I want to stay at home because at the hostel I have to do everything on my own and I am not used to it. Also, I have my own reservations about hostel life. Please suggest which is better, staying at home or hostel accommodation? Both the colleges are good.



Dear Nesar,

It is not for me to suggest which is better because there is no one right answer. You need to choose from two equally good choices. And you can make either choice work for you. There are advantages in a hostel in terms of learning basic life skills and becoming more independent. But there can also be challenges. Each person responds to situations differently.

There are people who love being in a hostel, and there are those who find it a lot more difficult. I think you should have an honest conversation with your parents where you understand why they want to send you to the hostel, and you express your fears and reservations. Eventually, you should only do it if you feel comfortable about the choice, and feel positively inclined towards gaining the experience. Because, otherwise, it will not work for you. The last thing you should feel is that you are being pushed into a situation and that you have no choice.


Dear Madam,

My nephew who completed PUC last year wanted to take law but was forced to pursue engineering. Now he has backlogs in the second semester and has been trying hard to cope with the syllabus. I want to convince my sister’s family and make him change his course. How should I go about?



Dear Arun,

You might do your nephew a great service, by helping him navigate his career path. Unfortunately, too many parents in India think engineering is the only viable career choice. You could probably begin this task by trying to understand the perspective of your sister’s family.

Too often we think there is only one path to success, and that path to success is through an engineering degree. The reality though is that there are many paths to success, and there are also many definitions of success. So help them define what success means for themselves as parents, and therefore how they are defining the meaning of success for their child.

The moment we allow ourselves the possibility of there being many paths to success, and many definitions of success, we become open to the possibility of going down different paths. 

In any case, success in life is not determined by the degree or the marks. On the contrary, it is determined by many factors, some of which are a person’s confidence, ability to communication, ability to problem-solve and think out of the box, ability to work in a team and lead a team, ability to constantly keep learning on the job and so on. None of these are really defined by the actual degree of specialisation. Hope this helps.