Do Our Parents Influence Our Career Choices?

Perhaps it’s not something you’ve thought about before, but did you know that your career choices have probably been – at least in some way – influenced by your parents?

Whether you’ve had happy-go-lucky parents who wanted nothing more than for you to feel satisfied, or go-getter parents who measured your success by your income and job title, there are lots of little ways our parents have intentionally and unwittingly guided us.

Equally, you might be influencing your children’s career choices… even if you don’t mean to be! For example:

  • You might have expectations about your child’s educational achievements.
  • You may already have ideas about what you think your child will be good at as an adult.
  • You could already be leading by example due to the way you talk about your job.
  • Your values might be influencing your child’s values, particularly when it comes to a work-life balance, breadwinning and homemaking.
  • As a parent, it’s you who gives your child opportunities to learn and develop outside of the school curriculum.

So as you can see, parents hold a lot of power… even if we’re only wielding it unconsciously! Therefore, it’s important to recognise that we have the ability to influence our children positively and negatively.

Parents’ jobs

You might have heard tales of third, fourth or even fifth generation families working in the same industries, and whether they’re teachers, butchers or lawyers, they’ve all got one thing in common: an insider glimpse into what it’s really like in their parent’s occupation, copying them if they saw their parents satisfied, stimulated and happy.

Equally, the same principle applies to children whose parents are unhappy in their work: parents who complain about their jobs or struggle to make ends meet might put off kids from certain job roles – especially if their parents have explicitly warned them against following their footsteps!


Our parents also influence our career choices by introducing us to particular activities.
For example, taking our children to sports clubs and music lessons might be inspiring them to consider their hobbies as full-time careers in the future.

However, we all know children who have rejected particular activities because their parents have been too pushy with them. It’s important to let children reach their own decisions about whether or not they want to pursue certain interests as forcing it on them can actually turn them off it.

So what can you do to make sure you’re not influencing your children?

Encourage your children to do activities for the sake of enjoyment, open their eyes to the huge number of options available to them, and gently suggest that they do some work experience when they’re old enough.

If your child turns out to be a chatty adult with a gift for the gab, they might check out and make the most of their people skills! Or, they might prefer to run for Prime Minister, become a vet or work their way through a number of roles. Whatever the case, tell them they’ll have your support – no matter what.

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