Mother is picking my career for me, what do I do?

I am 17 and a girl and my mom is making me become a doctor. Right now I am really depressed, but, she is still unrelenting. My older brother became a police officer and he is in his early thirties with a wife and a son and they still live in an apartment. My mom, therefore, wants me to go into medicine so that I can find a job early on and pay off any loans and own a home. She says she will pay for a four-year college, but, I have to go to graduate school on my own money which she says I will not have if I pick a lousy major. And if I need any money beyond college, she will not give me a cent because it will be all my fault.

Now, I am not sure exactly what I want to do, definitely something in biology. But mom sees anything other than medicine or pharmacy as a sure road to poverty. Well, maybe if I had a choice, I would be looking into medicine. But now my life feels pretty much planned for me and I have been crying many nights over it. I could be well paid, no loans, big house but absolutely miserable but Mom would be happy because I am not what she defines as poor.

Dad is really sympathetic towards me and tells me to do what I love, not to worry, and, if anything happens, he will take care of it. But, I feel as though Mom is looming over me like some specter and it would kill me to see her upset. I asked her if I could do something along the lines of biology or research and she looked unhappy. I asked her if she was upset and she said, “no, do whatever you want; both of my children will just be poor.” I told her that I might hate my job if I become a doctor. She just replied that she hates her job too.

Now, I am really upset because Dad is 68 and Mom is 55 so he will probably die first and leave me alone up against Mom. The depression has gotten to the point that it is interfering with my schoolwork and I was sent to my high school counselor and I told her about my situation. She wanted to have a meeting with my parents and I told her just my father. So she only spoke with my father and I hoped Mom would never find out about this meeting. Dad apparently talked to her about this and she told me to never talk about family affairs in school. I told her that it was just the counselor, nobody else. But she said that I was making our family look like bad people to the school.

Now I do not no what to do. I do not have any friends so I do not know who to talk to. I even feel guilty about asking for help online even though Mom does not know. If anyone has been in a similar situation as this, please, I would love some advice. Prayers also welcome to. And sorry for the long post. Thanks.

My family pushed me into engineering. I am good at math and science, so they wanted something “easy” for me. I wasted 2 years of school on it. I dropped out and decided to start a family while I figured out what I wanted to do. It took me another 7 years to even realize that what I loved most was the drawing.

I recently told my parents that I was going to go back to school for an art degree. My mom was concerned about money. I told her that I wasn’t doing it for the money. I have 3 kids, am happily married, and poor as snot. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I honestly won’t be worse off.

My dad took it better. But I think he was more excited about one of his two daughters actually getting a degree (which he does not have).

Now, if I had listened to my parents and gotten the degree would I have money? Maybe. The economy is really bad, especially for engineers with no experience. Would I be happy, no, not at all. The one thing I never wanted to be was an absent parent. The one who worked 60 hour weeks and never saw their kids. After having my daughter my wants changed. Before that I thought I would love being a working mom.

Here’s the thing, parents want what they think is best for their kids. What they often don’t take into account is happiness. If just the idea of medical school freaks you out, it isn’t for you. You won’t be a good doctor if you hate your job.

Another thing to think about is that soon you will be an adult. For the time being you might have to listen, but in all reality your adult life is up to you. Don’t let people dictate your life.

If you do decide to try for medical school, this is my advice for an undergraduate degree. Foreign language. Seriously DO NOT get it in Biology, you will burn yourself out. This is something that every single medical student and doctor I know has said about school. The reason for Foreign language, you will become more marketable. A doctor that can speak several languages is more valuable that one that can only speak one.

I guess you can just “Flunk Out” of some pre-Med courses.
This would stop Dear Old Mom dead in her tracks.

Beyond that, you can just go and get your Bachelor of Arts.
Mom is springing for that anyway.
Just make sure that you take enough Courses in a Major that you might want to take Graduate courses in.

That will “buy” you over 4 years of Breathing Space (not having to finally decide your course of action).
THEN, see how Dear Old Mom is feeling (and how much money she may be offering) about the Major you are wanting to pursue in 2018.

It may well be that she changes her mind on things (or, may even Die by then) … OR, you may change your mind about what you want to do.
It seems like you will never want to be an MD, but something may excite you.

Thanks Cariethra, I was planning on minoring in Spanish anyway. I love it, I am doing four years of it in high school, and there is always someone that speaks it where I live. Funny, I also told Mom that I planned on minoring in Spanish. She told me to take something more useful, which is weird since the advantages of speaking it are obvious. What really gets to me is her insistence that those who go into biology, research, or any of the sciences will end up living under a bridge.

Is being a biologist really that bad of a job? Or performing medical research? I have bad people skills so I would probably do better in a lab. Having a husband would help, but, I am not too attractive and I have no personality to speak of. I will probably always be alone to face any financial burden.

I know that I have to make my own decisions, but, Mom is using her retirement money to pay me through college and I have to pay her back. She would never forgive me if I leave her in a retirement home, she needs at least a small home to live in. It is her due, to not be forgotten in a retirement home and to be paid back for the hassle of raising me. Thanks.

Your mother cannot control your adult life. You cannot blame her for wanting success for you. Hopefully, she can keep her ambition within constructive bounds.

Do the very best you can in school. Either medical school or biology graduate school requires very high grades and science aptitude. Do you have that? Nursing can be an excellent career with good pay. I recommend an MBA to those unsure of career goals, flexible and can pay very well.

Spanish is a good option…most employers expect their executives anymore to be bi-lingual. We see it in the ads all the time.
Pre-med can lead to many different careers. Get the best well rounded education that you can. Do the best you can. Don’t purposely flunk out of anything, that is very irresponsible.
Just do your best, and something will pique your interest. Many students your age change their mind (and majors) as they go along.

Redbetta, I think that part of the solution to your problem is to be less financially dependent on your mother for your college education. I hope that you are planning to take advanced placement tests so that you will start college with as many college credits as possible. Talk to your school counselor about college grant money. Make good use of summer by getting a job so that you can save for college and find out about early college courses for high school students at your local community college.

It sounds to me as if you don’t yet have enough information to be choosing a profession. I understand that your mother has “great expectations” for you, but that should not prevent you from taking a wait and see attitude in your own mind. Actually pharmacy might be a good option for you. I think it is a five year program - much less expensive than medical school. Just wait and see until you have a little college experience under your belt.

Here’s the thing: You’re mom can’t control you as an adult. But she can have a say if she’s paying for school. If you are willing to work through school (debt is a bad idea, avoid it if you can), and pay for it yourself, you’ll be fine. But if you need her to pay for it, she does have that control…

Good answers here.

Do what you love and live within your means. Learn to be strong with your mother.

My father told me what I would not major in when I was 17. In my case, I was informed I would go to college, I would pay for it, and he would let me know what I was allowed to major in. I said no thank, I’ll go, I’ll pay, but I’ll choose my own major. :smiley:

Like you, his reason was money.

I believe that the things we love and lean toward are put there by God. Follow them and you’ll do what you’re supposed to in life. I earned exactly the major I’d known I wanted since I was twelve years old. I do the two things I love, which are both ‘impractical,’ but I work hard, market well, and am doing just fine financially, even as a single mother of a very large family. Plus, I never actually ‘work,’ because I love what I do. I sit there smiling from ear to ear because someone’s PAYING me to DO WHAT I LOVE!!! Not only that, but I feel what I do makes a difference, and puts something good into people’s lives, that will go with them throughout their lives. I truly believe I’m where God wanted me to be.

The moral of the story is, one does not need to be a doctor to pay the bills.

As to parents who tell us how to live…:rolleyes:…my current home was bought when I was 35. My mother pressured and guilt-tripped my (now ex) husband, demanding to be brought along on every house hunting trip. (I wasn’t able to move here until after he bought the house.) She let her opinion be known on every house, and put so much pressure on him that he bought the house she loved. Ten years later, I’m living in ‘her’ house, a house she loves and I never would have even bothered going inside of to look at, ecause she refused to let him make his own decision. And because he wasn’t willing to stand up to her.

Moral of THIS story is: her running your life WILL continue as long as you let it.

EDIT: I meant to respond to the OP, but somewhere along the line, I responded to another user instead. So please know that this was directed at the OP. Silly me and my technologically impaired self…

Speaking as a 20 year old girl who is still in college, the best advice I can give to you is that you need to choose your profession.

I changed majors six times before settling on criminal justice, which is my absolute passion. If you do not love what you are doing, you are not going to have much of a will to succeed in it; and med school is no minor issue. You’re looking at years of sacrifice, paying off massive loans, etc…and if your heart is not really in it, then is it worth it to go down that path? Do NOT make a decision based solely on a six figure salary.

And you know what? Your mother may be unhappy initially, but she will get over it. As adults, there will be numerous times in our lives where we cannot please everyone with our decisions. You are a wonderful daughter for caring so much about not offending your mother. But you also must care about yourself; you are the one who has to live your life. Not her.

On a side note, since you are looking into a biology-related field, have you ever considered a career in an area of forensic science? There are many to choose from, and your mother will be happy to know that forensics tends to produce very fruitful, rewarding jobs.

If you need someone to talk to or vent to, please feel free to send me a message. I do not really have any friends myself, and I know how lonely it can be to not have someone to speak with, especially when you are going through a difficult, depressing time. Please know that I am praying for you. And remember, I am just a PM away.

God bless,

Move out then if it’s bothering you so much. You are an adult, you can do what you want with your life.

This is geared towards men but it will give you some good advice on how to move out and establish yourself on your own.

Now here are my musings on college from a recent graduate, read if you want:

My mother was rather “encouraging” like your mother appears to me. She is the reason I went to a top-20 university when I really would have preferred to go to the local university (and for undergrad, going to a prestigious university is not that important, unless we’re talking Harvard, Yale and the like). This made me rather unhappy, and as it turned out she was soon no longer among the living to see me at this top-ranked university. So your mother could die tomorrow or a year down the road (hopefully not but we never know!), and you’ll be on a path you don’t want to be on for a person who is no longer living.

You can’t let your parents dictate your life for you. That will lead to being unhappy. Now granted, with their experience, they might see that certain degrees are not worth the time or money, something which might not be apparent to you, when you have four years at college ahead of you, and the post-grad years are hazy.

Pharmacy is a field I would avoid due to the automation that will be coming soon which will cut the amount of jobs in that field. That’s just my take though. Plus with Obamacare (which has a slim chance of being repealed it would seem), medicine in the USA is not something I would like to get into either, but I’m not an American. You could always take a practice outside the USA. You should get some volunteer clinical experience in any case to see if it’s for you (and for your med school application).

Just so you know you can major in whatever before going to med school…you just have to make sure you take the necessary science courses. If you like biology, then that’s the standard major for med school so go for it. Make sure you really like it though, because 4 years of college-level study is enough to make people with only a hobby-level interest in a subject lose heart. In my experience this is what happened with my like of history. I liked it in high school, but when I went about majoring in it, that soon took away my like of it. Luckily I found something else that I did love to major in.

Whatever your minor is in isn’t that important IMO, so go with Spanish, because if you’re good at it, it’s probably going to be easy to get A’s. However, I don’t believe it is possible to become fluent in a language without being immersed for a good chunk of time (1+ year) in a hispanophone area. You can study grammar and vocabulary to your heart’s content, but you will not become fluent in speaking it (well this is my experience, but it’s also the opinion of noted polyglot Alexander Arguelles, whom I would recommend looking up on youtube for informative videos on how to learn a language)

And at the end of the day, talk with God about your career and life beyond high school and ask him to show you what your calling is in life. Getting into fits and crying is not something you should be doing when whatever career you have, and whatever else happens in your life is just a preparation for our true homes, union with God in the afterlife. Never forget that.

When I graduated from high school, my parents offered to pay for college; I declined because I knew I would end up taking the classes they wanted me to take. I joined the military instead (Navy) and paid for my own school when I got out with the GI bill and didn’t owe anyone for college and majored in what I wanted to learn. Find a way to pay for college yourself, then you will not owe your Mom.

I cannot emphasize how important it is to do something in life you like, not to please someone else .

This is a type of calling that needs to discerned, and frankly it sounds like your mother is acting selfish.

Given the current uncertainty of healthcare policy in the USA, your mother clearly has not researched this career for you and seems to be clinging to old-fashioned, soon-to-be dated concepts that being a medical doctor = security. Many of my friends in and out of med school are quite concerned.

Regarding choosing a major, yeah, there’s a lot of ones out there that will not land you a job. You want to do something you like, but not something that wastes your time. Frankly, you’ll need to be careful with the humanities and law school. A lot of folks going into those won’t be coming out so pretty. Sure, people get into art history and poetry, but who doesn’t?

But she said that I was making our family look like bad people to the school.

If you get nothing else out of here, NEVER fall for the “this family might look bad” nonsense. :o

I could write a whole paper on how that kind of selfishness is destroying our culture.

My advice is to find your own path, and don’t let people hang money over your head.

Biology is a good pick, too. :smiley:

Mom is unrealistic. With Obamacare and the cost of malpractice insurance, many doctors have and will opt out from the profession. A friend who was graduated from Rutgers and went into practice gave it up for business because of the malpractice insurance.

Mom should know that the ones who really succeed in this life are the ones who do what they love. My husband loves his work. He is an engineer. He and others were truly blessed to be able to get up every morning and earn money for what they love. Find your passion.

Going into debt is ridiculous. A woman who hires engineers told me the Ivy League degree might get her interested but after you are hired you better produce. She found little difference between the big bucks college grad and the community college grad. It is what you do on the job that counts.

Unless my kid showed an aptitude for medicine, I would not put myself in debt nor would I encourage him to do so.

We know more successful people who do not hold a degree than those that do. By successful I’m using your Mom’s idea of success: big house, cars, fancy vacations.

What we are seeing now in in the United States is (I believe) part of the process of going to a completely state-controlled (“single-payer”) medical system. Doctors will not be treated like professionals, but like factory workers. The education system is going through the same type of thing. If you’re in the US, it would be foolish to go into medicine now for the pay, unless you take your practice to another country or perhaps you can be one of the few to cater to the wealthy, which will no doubt insist upon better care for themselves and be able to back it up with the money, but being an overworked factory worker is the most likely scenario for most doctors-in-training today. Maybe if you show your mom some articles on the decline of the medical system from respected magazines she would change her mind.

Of course, the mot important thing, as others have mentioned, is that you should not let your parents, or anyone, control your important decisions in life. They can provide valuable and loving insight, for sure, and you may decide to follow that advice in the end, but it is YOU who must decide what is best for YOU and YOUR LIFE.

Does your mother know there’s no actual undergrad major in medicine? In fact you can study anything and as long as you take the pre-med courses you can get into a med school. A lot of medical students were biology majors, because most of the pre-med courses are math and science courses which are covered as a biology major. I would assume nursing or physiology would be the closest majors to medicine, but those may not be available depending on the college you attend. If your mother is concerned about money here is a list of the 300 highest paying jobs:

Have you considered a religious life? Pray, it could also be a calling.


I have friends who owe over $250,000 each in student loans for science related careers. And they attended state universities, not Ivy League. It seems like just a few years to pay off, right? Nope. First, the one who went into Bio-Chem can’t find a job in the field because they say he is “over qualified” with a PhD and a few years real world work experience. So, he’s making $30,000 a year teaching High School in a poor neighborhood. The other went back to college after getting his Bachelors of Arts because he also couldn’t find a job and he’s still wracking up debt hoping to go to med school. I have another friend who owes a little over $100,00 for some type of tech degree he never finished and he has recently gone back to both defer the loans and finish his degree with an eye toward a bigger salary.

The lesson I learned from those friends? Either go into the military and serve the country while earning a paid college education, pay as you go to college so you do not wrack up massive debt, or seriously consider a blue collar career.

There are quite a few blue collar careers that pay close to 6 figures, take far fewer years of education, and that education costs much less. I know you’re a girl. So am I :slight_smile: However, I love building and fixing things. I decided to spend my life as a wife and mother, but if I were a young lady again I’d go for a non-traditional for females blue collar career in a heartbeat. Have you heard of Mike Rowe? Look up his testimony to congress re: blue collar jobs that pay very well and no one to fill them.

No matter what you do, try to find a way to do it without spending your mothers money and without wracking up debt. That way you are free to follow your own path and won’t spend your life paying massive debt. If you have to go into debt because you cannot avoid it, you’d better make sure you have thoroughly researched your chosen career and that you’ll make a decent living at it.

People skills are important no matter what you do. My bio-chem friend is not very attractive and not good with people, either. Which is part of why he is teaching. He does not interview well. Which means no one will hire him to research in a lab. You are going to need to cultivate people skills and keep your appearance neat, tidy, and up to date in order to get a job post college. Some people are born with it, some have to work at it. If your self assessment is accurate, you’ll have to work at it.

I’m a 56 year-old woman with two adult daughters. My 28-year old is a physical therapist and makes more money than I do, and she also coaches figure skating. My 30-year old majored in theater in college, and this past year, made more money than I do.

So both daughters are making a good living, which means that my husband and I did a good job. :slight_smile: I’m saying that so you know you can take my advice seriously.

I have worked as a medical technologist for over 30 years. Do you know what that is? I’m guessing you don’t. I’m guessing that you have never investigated all your other career options in health care.

I agree with other posters that your mother is not knowledgeable about “medicine.” Most doctors that I know (and I know a lot of them) have over a hundred thousand dollars in debt for their schooling when they are finished. I know one doctor who is almost half a million in debt.

Yes, doctors make a lot of money, but even for a doctor, that’s a lot of debt. Your mother said she will pay for your undergrad? Sweet, but then there are four years of very expensive medical school, if you get accepted, and that’s a HUGE "if. Being female gives you an advantage, and if you are a minority, that will give you more advantage. But there are a lot of people who don’t make it into med school after earning a useless degree in biology or chemistry.

After medical school, there’s the residency. You receive a stipend, which is usually enough to live on, but it’s not much.

Tell your mother these things.

I said, “Useless degree in biology,” and I meant that. Google "careers in biology and do some “research,” since you’re interested in that. Undergraduates in biology have a huge unemployment rate. There are very few careers in biology with a bachelors degree. If you go into research, you will need to earn a Masters and Ph.D, or you could earn a Masters and an M.D., which means medical school after four years of undergraduate study.

Now back to my original suggestion. Do some serious research into other health care careers. You will discover a whole host of careers that I’m guessing your mother has never seen on television.

A medical technologist works in the hospital laboratory doing tests. It is one of the most employable careers you can enter. We hired our med tech students before they ever started their internship with us, and they work 20 hours a week in our lab while they are in school! That’s good money, around $15/hour before they ever earn their Bachelor’s Degree!

The reason we hire them is that we are so short-staffed that we have to hire our students to do all the work! There is a huge shortage of medical technologists in the U.S.!

That means jobs.

Many of the other health care careers are short-staffed, too. Nursing, X-ray, respiratory tech, physical therapy (that’s one of the fields that has a CRITICAL short-staffing issue–without a certain number of staff PTs, a hospital has to limit the number of beds that they open).

And that’s just a small number of your options.

Then there are the other health care careers outside of hospitals. Did you know that there is a critical shortage of dental hygienists? This is a great career where often, you can choose your hours, because dentists are so desperate to hire someone! Great if you are planning to marry and have children.

Seriously, do some research. Look into all these other options. Go to a hospital and ask to speak with someone in human resources about health care career options. Most hospitals are so short-staffed that they have people hired to recruit people like you into health care–some hospitals have programs that pay back your tuition if you commit to working for them after you graduate!

As for “doing what you like,” it sounds nice on paper (or on a computer), but you really have to have a means of making money. You can’t live without it. If you spend four years in college (and go into debt) and come out and can’'t get a job, you WILL live with your mother during your adult years, or you will end up in a less-than-happy living situation with roommates. You might be lucky enough to get married to a wonderful man who earns enough that you don’t have to work, but keep in mind that sadly, 50% of all marriages end in divorce, and that puts many women into poverty.

It is not fun to be poor and have no money and no means of earning money in the U.S. Your mother may be overbearing, but believe me, she is only worried about seeing her daughter end up poor, and I don’t blame her.

We raised both of our daughters to know that whatever career they chose, they needed to be able to earn a living wage from it. We knew that the odds against a “theater major” are terrible, and so we got our daughter involved with theater from toddlerhood, and she learned to network and make contacts “in the business.” This is what has made her successful in finding work and earning a good living from the theater.

So honor your mother’s intentions and look for a career where you can earn a living. At the same time, be true to yourself and find a career that you actually like. It is possible to do BOTH.

Best of luck to you. I hope this advice is helpful.

It depends on the level of education that you have. I have a friend who’s a lab tech at a major university and she makes less than a first year teacher (in our district that’s 35K). She has a masters in evolutionary biology. (I think… I know it’s something biology…) She says that you can make good money if you run the lab, but you need the PhD.

I also have another friend who is working on a post-doc at another university and she gets a minimum stipend, but it’s not like she’s rolling in the dough (and her husband is a minister, so it’s not like he’s super rich either). I forget exactly what she does, but she works w/biology, gene research (I think, I forget…)

I have a friend from college who had parents like yours. Pushed the kid to be doctor. The thing is that he didn’t have the aptitude for college level science. A lot of smart kids get pushed out of the sciences at that level because the classes are freakin’ hard.

At the college I went to, the first required bio class for science majors was a weeder class. Meaning it was tough and designed to weed out people who didn’t want to be in the sciences. If they made it through evolutionary biology, then the next challenge they faced was organic chem - which was really a nightmare for most of my science friends. A lot of people decided after organic chem that they really didn’t want to be in the sciences at all.

However, He’s now a surgical tech and loves it. He makes good money and is able to support his family. His parents were disappointed that he didn’t make doctor, but they got over it. Your mom will too.

Also, don’t get down on yourself because you aren’t attractive according to the world. By the time your 20th high school reunion rolls around you will be surprised at who’s gotten married to who. People who you thought would never get married are in love with their spouse and have tons of kids. Don’t sell yourself short.

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