Unsupportive parent.

29-Dec-14, 18:25
edited about 19 seconds later
Avatar for Phormulater
posted about 6 years ago
Hi All
I was wondering if anyone has had a bit of opposition from your parents about doing a PhD? Any advice would be most welcome.
Bit of background- I graduated in 2011 and qualified as a pharmacist in 2012. I then worked at a pharmaceutical company in an office based job for about 18months. Half way through the job I realised that my passion lay in science and I started applying for PhD's in Jan 2014, and well, here I am now 3 months in.

The problem is that my mum whilst not outrightly against it, thinks that it's not the best decision and that if I wanted to do further studies, I should have gone back to do dentistry or medicine. The other day we were in the car and she wanted to know when the research stops. I said it's when I have enough data to write a thesis, but then it can go on after that etc. Her response was that 'I should have done a proper degree' in a quiet, slightly disappointed tone. She doesn't know that a PhD is the most merit-able qualification one can get. This is just one example, there are many others.

It's difficult because I'm from a British Asian background and there is this pressure to go to uni, get a job, get married and have kids. The fact that I've gone back to uni is a bit of an odd route for her and she doesn't know many people who have done a PhD, whereas we know loads of dentists, doctors, pharmacists etc.

I don't want my decision to be seen as second rate, and it does get annoying knowing that one of my parents isn't really behind me.
Any similar situations? Any advice or comments welcome.
29-Dec-14, 19:27
by marasp
Avatar for marasp
posted about 6 years ago
My native British in laws are the same! Especially the mother in law: she just thinks that a lady's position is in the kitchen, raising kids. Well, they are very religious and traditional. They think that having children is the ultimate goal in a woman's life (it bloody well isn't $&%$!!!).

As a result, when I did get the email that I had passed my R&R with very minor corrections, my friends were on cloud nine whereas my in laws did not even congratulate me (my parents were neutral with the whole thing to start with, but they did make an effort when I explained to them how much the PhD meant to me). On the night I found out about my results, I went out to celebrate, but even though we invited the in laws, they didn't even turn up!

Also, when I told the mother in law that I am applying for postdocs, she was like... 'but is the PhD not the end of it all?' So I said that... 'on the contrary, everything has just started!'

I have the support of my husband 100%, and that's all that matters. I don't care about what anyone else thinks.

I have decided that I won't let anyone tell me how to lead my life. With the right training, I simply don't care any more. Yes, you can actually do this: train yourself not to give a damn about what other people think of you!
29-Dec-14, 19:37
by marasp
Avatar for marasp
posted about 6 years ago
So, before you panic, there are two things you can do:
a) explain your mother how much the PhD means to you. Tell her how it works. It will be easier to her to accept what you are doing if you explain the process that a PhD takes. Tell her that you feel happy and proud of doing a PhD, that it gives meaning and a purpose to your life. Tell her that it may take ages to complete, that a PhD is a roller-coaster sometimes, but it means the world to you and you will try your best to complete it in time.
b) if she doesn't accept it, keep your distance from your mother. Don't kick her out of your life altogether, but simply exclude this part of your life (i.e. the PhD) from every discussion with your mother and other like-minded family members.
c) if your parents fund your PhD, simply find alternative ways of funding.
d) Note that it's easier to make your parents feel neutral about the whole thing than making them enthusiastic about you doing a PhD.
30-Dec-14, 03:04
edited about 14 seconds later
Avatar for alexanderadams
posted about 6 years ago

I know how you feel right now. I also graduated in 2012 and obtained a decent job as an officer in one of the hospitals in my country. After working for a year, I decided to quit my job because my passion is always in research and teaching. My parents were against me when I decided to continue my PhD. They are also very conservative parents like yours and expected me to marry, have kids and settle down at the age of 26-27.

I have been doing my PhD for 1 year but they still think that I made the worst decision ever in my life for quitting my previous job. I guess they will stop complaining when I graduated from PhD. Goodluck :)


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