to be saddened that DC is wasting academic potential?

(157 Posts)
Smokerings Mon 19-Nov-12 22:16:47

I feel a bit if a cow really but I am really dissappointed in my DC's aspirations.
Just gone 14, academically exceptional. Top of the year in a grammar.
Has decided to aim for a career in graphic design.
I know that being happy and job satisfaction is the most important thing we could hope for our offspring. And I know that graphic design is a highly regarded career, but I'm saddened at the lack of desire to use a brilliant mind.
It will possibly all change over the next few years, but I'm agonizing over this potential waste. And hating myself for being bothered by the lack of ambition.

(namechanging regular as I'm a bit ashamed of my thought process, tbh)
(please please don't think I'm being disrepectful regarding Graphic Design, it's just not as academic as this child could achieve)

joanbyers Mon 19-Nov-12 22:19:32

How is he 'aiming' for this career at 14? Surely he will take much the same GCSEs whichever way he goes.

squeakytoy Mon 19-Nov-12 22:20:03

YABU. but I do think you know that anyway..

The most important thing is having a happy healthy child, who has the opportunity to do what THEY want to do, not what you would rather they did.

Helltotheno Mon 19-Nov-12 22:21:00

YABU. That's she's aiming at anything at the age of 14 is pretty exceptional imo. Don't drown her under the weight of your expectations.

Helltotheno Mon 19-Nov-12 22:22:02

That she, sorry (or he!)

janey68 Mon 19-Nov-12 22:23:31

I am assuming you haven't achieved a career which fulfils you? Because if you had, you would understand the importance of career satisfaction and overall happiness, and you would be glad that your dc knows what s/he aspires to and is aiming towards it.

I also assume you aren't intellectually exceptional yourself, otherwise you would also be able to get your head around the idea that one can use a brilliant mind in all kinds of ways unconnected to one's paid job. Although having said that, brilliant creativity and acumen could take someone a long way in graphic design anyway

Maybe I've got you wrong, but you remind me of the worst kind of interfering mother I've had the misfortune to come across occasionally: living out your own aspirations vicariously through your children. Find a fulfilling career yourself - and guess what? - you really won't fret half so much about your child's life.

Dawndonna Mon 19-Nov-12 22:25:24

DS was going to be a doctor. He's been saying this since he was six years old. He came home from sixth form three weeks ago and informed us that as he couldn't give up his books he's doing lit.
Fine by me.
Point is, they do change.

Hassled Mon 19-Nov-12 22:26:15

Firstly - DC is 14. At 14 I was going to be top international journalist - I was going to be the person you saw reporting from war-torn Lebanon (Kate Adie, in fact). I changed; my aspirations changed, life got in the way, things moved on. The fact he/she wants to be a graphic designer now doesn't mean they will become one.

Secondly - there's a clear distinction between truly academic and just very bright. Some people love to learn, and they always will - others see learning as a means to an end. It's not knowledge for knowledge's sake, if you see what I mean. I think the truly academic are a pretty rare breed, tbh. So while I don't doubt your child is very bright, that doesn't necessarily mean they have what it takes for a doctorate and a glittering specialist academic career - that takes a very specific sort of mindset.

Just wait and see, be supportive, hope they stay happy. It's all you can do.

Crikey, janey, d'you want to give the poor woman other kick while she's down there?

I agree she's jumping the gun given her child's only 14, but that seems unnecessarily harsh.

OP: does he even really know what graphic design entails, do you think? He'll still need to do normal GCSEs so might change his mind, and it's a long time before he has to make decisions that'd really affect his future.

ReallyTired Mon 19-Nov-12 22:26:41

Being a sucessful graphics designer is extremely competitive. It could be argued that it requires a brilliant mind to be a graphics designer.

Are you worried about lack of salary? Lack of work? Stablity of employment?

If its the money aspect then be possible and show him the salary that a graphics designer gets on the web.

Prehaps you could get him interested in related careers like web design or computer programming.

What do you want him to do an ideal world?

Sarahbeanieslawyer Mon 19-Nov-12 22:27:29

God I'd be over the moon if either of my children wanted to and were able to become graphic designers. Try and stop angsting, it could be so much worse and he/she will probably change his/her mind 54 times before it actually happens anyhow.

BOFingSanta Mon 19-Nov-12 22:27:51

I think you need a lot of intelligence, creativity and understanding to be a graphic designer. It certainly isn't incompatible with the sort of quick mind that academic aptitude demonstrates. OP, I do think you are being unreasonable- it's an exciting career that would be very rewarding for a bright young person.

SpicyPear Mon 19-Nov-12 22:27:57

YABU. I really struggled to get my work life established due to being heavily pushed in the wrong direction by parents and teachers obsessed with academic potential. Just because he could do something super academic, doesn't mean that is what will best suit him. Support his choices. He may end up doing what you hope, he may not, but you need to bury your disappointment as deep as you can so he can work it out for himself.

Cahooots Mon 19-Nov-12 22:28:56

YABU (very) but you already knew that. smile

My DS is at uni studying medicine and knows quite a few students who are there because that is what their parents wanted them to do and because it is the type of thing you are meant to do if you are clever. It seems incredibly sad to me. If your DS finds something he really wants to do then you should be delighted.

Smokerings Mon 19-Nov-12 22:29:29

Yes, I know I'm being U.
However, I have never expressed these views aloud.
I will support my DC in whatever avenue they choose, as I know how important contentment is.
But, I feel saddened that the academic brain will/may not be used fully.
And I'm churned up about that opinion.
And janey 68, you are wrong in your assumptions.
I realise that I have missed a sentence in my OP. This DC does not achive as brilliantly in D&T as in "academic" subjects, which further compounds the issue.

Helltotheno Mon 19-Nov-12 22:30:22

They do indeed... and sometimes they go off the beaten track so much that you wish their career choice was the height of your worries (I know this from experience).

So the best thing to do is just chill OP.

zombiesheep Mon 19-Nov-12 22:30:44

Wow at 14 I wanted to be either an architect, an interior designer, a hairdresser, a hair stylist, a make up artist, a care worker or a midwife.

I'm now doing an honours degree in Animal Science.

You sound pushy and too obsessed with your childrens future.

zombiesheep Mon 19-Nov-12 22:32:18

I completely agree with janey68 - she is spot on.

Minshu Mon 19-Nov-12 22:32:22

I had a glittering academic career, straight As (before A*s were invented), first class honours, PhD. Now I'm doing a job in a totally unrelated discipline where the most fulfilling parts of the role require no academic qualifications whatsover.

Not sure why you are worrying about what a 14 year old is saying right now - it's not like they're refusing to go to school, or being otherwise anti-social, is it?

Maybe because s/he doesn't achieve so well in this subject, that's the appeal - that it's a challenge?

I reckon if someone is academic (as opposed, as someone else points out, to being bright in a different way), they'll probably get back to it.

What impact is this 'decision' s/he feels has been made, actually having on life right now? Because D&T at GCSE seems like the only thing I can think of you'd do at this stage, in order to go for that career.

lindsell Mon 19-Nov-12 22:32:47

Yanbu to feel disappointed but IMO it's important, as I'm sure you know, that you don't show that to your ds and that you support him in what he wants to do. That's not to say that you can't encourage him to explore what it is about graphic design that he likes the sound of and then encourage him to also consider other similar options - eg if he's also mathematically minded then engineering may be a good fit?

Perhaps also help him to organise some work experience in the field, my dsis went through sudden passions for things based on a book she'd read or film she'd seen and soon changed her mind when she actually experienced the reality.

All that of course is so you can help him find the career that he will enjoy and do well in. If it ends up being one that doesn't necessarily make use of all his talents but he's happy then you can also be happy and proud that you helped him make the best choice for him.

I know my dm is disappointed that I didn't make a career in the sciences (as that's her background and she feels that is a more important field) but equally she's proud that I have got a good career in my chosen (when I was 12!) profession.

Ime it's natural that we want the best for our dc and for them to make the most of their potential as well as for them to be happy.

avivabeaver Mon 19-Nov-12 22:32:50

every year i run a course at our local FE college

it is basically for bright kids who have been asked to leave AS courses because they have done no work.

most of them have failed because its the only way to get out doing what their parents want them to do- usually law/science/other worthy occupation. Luckily many of them use this as a way of getting to do what they want to do- whether it be english/film/graphic design or working.

let him do what he wants if it is going to point to a career. Just because he can do academic stuff doesnt mean he has to now.

minifingers Mon 19-Nov-12 22:33:21

As someone who has decided to cease all support for and involvement in my 13 year old's education, I'm inclined to say YANBU.

Read my thread here: and realise how bloody lucky you are to have a DC who wants to do something with their life, and is prepared to work to achieve it.


Ponyofdoom Mon 19-Nov-12 22:33:31

I think YABU and it's really odd that you wouldn't want your child to do something they enjoy. I don't get it.

zombiesheep Mon 19-Nov-12 22:33:38

I realise that I have missed a sentence in my OP. This DC does not achive as brilliantly in D&T as in "academic" subjects, which further compounds the issue.

I got a D in AS Biology and am now doing animal science. Seriously stop being so worried.

janey68 Mon 19-Nov-12 22:33:42

LRD - maybe it sounds harsh, but I think it's pretty terrible for a parent to be posting like that about their 14 year old child, who is achieving well at school and simply has different career aspirations to their mother! Even if they try hard not to show it to the child, if their belief is that the child is somehow 'wasting' their potential then it no doubt filters through to the child.

Your child is not an extension of you: they are a person in their own right. I think trying to push your child away from, or into, a particular career is unfair, disrespectful and at worst really damaging

But she's posting in here - not saying it to the child. And she's aware it sounds bad. I reckon we all have gut reactions we're a bit ashamed of or know aren't ideal.

I do agree with you, just not how you said it and what you assumed about the OP.

MrsBradleyJames Mon 19-Nov-12 22:35:47

YABU. What you see as a 'lack of ambition' is you imposing your values on your son's life. 'Ambition' to you = a highly regarded profession which is seen as using the brain and which is high status in society and gives material possessions. 'Ambition' to others is to find what truly suits and excites you and to stretch yourself within that.
I think it's awful to judge what he is currently interested in as a 'lack of ambition'. Look outside the heirarchy that society is imposing on you and really look at your own precious child and his ability and what will make him fulfilled in life; and don't assume that a brilliant mind can't be used in a myraid of different ways that don't conform to the norms.
Supporting him is what he will always be grateful for, simple as that.

3b1g Mon 19-Nov-12 22:35:51

If she wanted to go into academia, would you be sad about the wasted artistic potential? Some people are lucky enough to be good at more than one thing, and in that case they should probably follow the one that makes them most fulfilled. Being able is good as it gives you choice, but those choices should be options, which by definition includes the option to choose not to do them. Sorry I haven't explained that better.

Teabagtights Mon 19-Nov-12 22:36:42

Your child is 14. My son at 18 had no idea what he was going to do. My goal was for him to get a maths degree and decide from there. My 19 year old has no idea what he will do either after university. Some mention of being a lecturer but no firm plans. He will change his mind in a few years. Let him be. Plenty of time yet.

Smokerings Mon 19-Nov-12 22:37:22

SpicyPear, that's what bothering me I think. If it comes to the crunch would I be one of those parents encouraging the child into the route that I thought was more apt for them? I really hope that I am big enough and clever enough to see the pitfalls of that strategy.
FWIW, I think my title is misleading - should be something more along the lines of "to be cross at myself that I am saddened that DC may be wasting academic potential". But I think many of you wise posters are answering that question for me anyway. Thank you for not flaming me.
Salary isn't an issue - I'm aware that academic achievement doesn't necessarily compute to high earnings. smile

LessMissAbs Mon 19-Nov-12 22:37:56

14 is a bit early to make up his mind and stick to it.

That said, graphic design can be a very lucrative field. Things have changed, and some of the traditional subjects, such as Law, are no longer so well paid. I know a young graphic designer who makes a small fortune and is doing better than many others his age. In that he has bought a house and supports a non-working wife at only 29.

Although do encourage your DC to explore all options (as I'm sure you will). For some reason DH didn't, and despite having 5 As at Scottish higher, went to the local college at 17 and did a non-university degree. It has affected his career prospects.

notanotter Mon 19-Nov-12 22:39:43

if he's top of his year in a top grammar he'll change his mind!

Dominodonkey Mon 19-Nov-12 22:40:20

It's strange, I was talking to my mum about this sort of thing yesterday. A cousin of hers was obsessed with her son being a doctor, wouldn't let him go out, said it was the only way.
He committed suicide at 18 from the pressure of living up to those expectations.

There is nothing wrong with being a Graphic Designer at all. I would consider it a job for someone with a high level of intelligence.

Softlysoftly Mon 19-Nov-12 22:42:33

My graphic designers charge me a fortune, and use their brilliant minds for interpreting my brief and gaining inspiration from art, architecture, science, literature, popular culture and innumerable other sources.

In short research their ambitions (which are likely to change) and don't make snap wildly incorrect judgements.

ginhag Mon 19-Nov-12 22:42:33

He could end up being a successful art/creative director of a company. Perhaps his own company like my DP who was pressured by his father to study economics

Smokerings Mon 19-Nov-12 22:45:27

I find the accusations of pushy really offensive tbh. These are my innermost thoughts and I am mooting them on here and here alone.
I am not lushing the child into a career of my choosing. I am disappointed that potentially, the child will not be stretching the talent that is inherent in them.
"Ambition' to you = a highly regarded profession which is seen as using the brain and which is high status in society and gives material possessions." NO. Ambition to me is about wanting to stretch and improve oneself, and I know that this is not incompatible with stretching and improving skills that don't perhaps come as naturally as otehr skills do.

ginhag Mon 19-Nov-12 22:47:05

I also have an (incredibly academically gifted) brother who was v depressed for a long, long time despite a first, phd, impressive job etc etc.

He lays hedges now. He's broke, but he's HAPPY.

SpicyPear Mon 19-Nov-12 22:48:35

Smokerings I think the fact that you are conscious of this and on here posting suggests that you won't end up as one of those parents smile But I do think it's important to try to deal with your feelings because even if you say nothing, in my experience, your DC will still know and, depending on their personality, it may influence their decisions.

daphnebubbles Mon 19-Nov-12 22:51:30

My sister studied graphic design (against my parent's wishes) and went into publishing. She has an amazing career, earns a fortune and LOVES her job. The point is that even at 10 she was passionate about a career in design and worked really hard to achieve in that field. I have always envied her single-minded determination. If your son is anything like her, he'll have a long and enjoyable career.

ginhag Mon 19-Nov-12 22:51:31

I wasn't calling you pushy btw. Just trying to give a different perspective. I think we all worry about our kids, in soooo many different ways (I'm currently trapped under poorly ds2 smile)

whathasthecatdonenow Mon 19-Nov-12 22:53:10

Be very careful about what you say/how you act. I see many Year 11s and sixth-formers putting themselves under ridiculous amounts of stress to live up to parental expectations. Some of whom have had complete breakdowns. One 17 year old sat and sobbed throughout a double lesson as her mum had gone onto her UCAS application and changed the courses she had applied to.

I would also echo what others have said about the fact that plans at 14 not being set in stone. I was going to be a barrister and a politician at 14. I'm a teacher now.

thebody Mon 19-Nov-12 22:55:04

There are times when we all feel a bit disappointed in our children.

This isn't one of them op.. He's actually probably just pushing your buttons and winding you up as let's face it I her he knows exactly how you feel. Kids always do.

If I were you I would be very enthusiastic and supportive and next week he will probably want to be a vet/doctor/rocket scientist

And if he doesn't then so bloody what.

Lancelottie Mon 19-Nov-12 22:55:13

One of mine is predicted stellar grades in triple science and double maths.

He is bloody-mindedly insisting that the only career he's remotely interested in is acting.

All you can do is provide advice and opportunities, OP. (Oh, and toast. And cheese. And Lynx, if it's a boy.)

janey68 Mon 19-Nov-12 22:57:28

Why are you assuming that intellectual ability and ambition can only be met through work? Work is a big chunk of life and it's essential to try to find a career path which brings happiness. I do a job I really enjoy. Yes, it uses some of my skills and intellectual abilities but their are other aspects of my ability which I fulfil through reading, and various hobbies, involvement in local politics. It just seems so narrow to think your child must fulfil all their aspirations through their job.

And apologies if I have misjudged you op, but I do find that generally its parents (and I hate to say it but specially mothers) who haven't achieved their own ambitions who tend to transfer like This onto their kids. And also generally, I think parents who are genuinely intelligently broad minded are better able to accept that their children are independent beings.

WilsonFrickett Mon 19-Nov-12 22:57:49

I remember reading something about '10 years of Labour' and it said one of the main achievements of the last 15 years was that creative careers are now seen, rightly, as actual careers. Not just something that the thick kids do because they can't get in to do a law degree. Actual, fulfilling, stretching, lucrative careers. It cheered me immensely. Op, I do believe you when you say you're not saying any of this to your DS but I think your angst is based on outdated stereotypes tbh.

NewRowSees Mon 19-Nov-12 23:15:16

I know some extremely well-off (as in six figures) creative directors who would find your anxiety bemusing. Maybe you could educate yourself on your DC's chosen path rather than relying on your preconceptions?

whois Mon 19-Nov-12 23:20:39

YAB a bit U

He's 14. Things change.

blanksquit Mon 19-Nov-12 23:51:17

Couldn't you kind of enlighten him a bit on architecture or engineering?

Sort of similarly creative with a bit more scope.

It's hard to find well paid work in graphic design. My dh is one. He wishes he'd done architecture.

I don't think it's transferring aspirations. I think it's giving guidance so that your dc don't have to struggle to make ends meet.

janey68 Tue 20-Nov-12 07:03:46

'I think it's guidance so that your dc doesn't have to struggle to make ends meet'

- I couldn't disagree more. There are many people in intellectually challenging careers who earn comparatively very little (university lecturer anyone??) and conversely it's quite possible to end up making a lot of money without academic prowess. Many professions are not particularly well paid and when you factor in the loans the student will need to take out and the years of poverty while training it's even worse. And anyway, the world of work is different nowadays, people don't walk into jobs easily or remain in the same career lifelong

This isn't about money. This is about the op believing graphic design is not a 'good enough' career for her child, and no doubt there's some snobbery about the whole top set grammar school thing- I expect she's worried other children in the class will end up in careers she values more

That's what I find offensive about thinking this way . Focus on your own child and their fulfilment. It's not a competition with everyone else

sleepdodger Tue 20-Nov-12 07:17:20

My mum was you circa 99 when doing a levels... I found languages pretty straightforwards but dull and unchallenging so did design etc
Many a row ensued
I then did an art based degree (more parental disparity saved only by going to a red brick uni)
And you know what.. After 10 years in a design related industry I have held a ft job the whole time on a generally lucrative salary... Point being they'll do best in what the apply themselves to rather than natural aptitude sometimes
And btw I know many wealthy graphic designers grin

LoosingBattle Tue 20-Nov-12 07:18:03


I was top of my year for lots of things. Got a perfect set of Highers/Advanced Highers (all As). My aspiration - to work in a supermarket. 10 years on I am completing my degree with OU as I realise how foolish I was and it is bloody hard work. I will never ever reach the potential I could of if someone had pushed me in the right direction.

janey68 Tue 20-Nov-12 07:29:12

Read the op. The young person in question doesn't aspire to working in a supermarket. S/he plans a career in graphic design. For anyone (and especially the parents) to assume that's not 'good' enough is an indictment on them not the young person

LoosingBattle Tue 20-Nov-12 07:36:27

I 'planned' a career in a supermarket. I managed stores for 10 years, but it isn't the same as doing something more academic - which is what I wish I had done.

janey68 Tue 20-Nov-12 07:41:21

I still think you're trying to make a parallel which doesn't apply to the ops case. You wanted to work in supermarkets, did it for 10 years, then realised this wasn't what you actually wanted to do.

The young person in the op simply aspires to go into an interesting and creative career and his/her mother is being a snob and deciding its not 'good enough'. If the op tries to steer her son/ daughter away from what they aspire to do then I think that's awful.

MulledWineOnTheBusLady Tue 20-Nov-12 07:54:29

As someone who had a Brilliant Mind™ at school I think they're massively over-rated as an indicator of what kind of work you'll enjoy and be good at. I've never had the slightest desire to be a doctor or a lawyer or any of those classic things. I'd have been utterly rubbish at them and hated them. A brilliant mind just means you have ONE basic entry-level requirement for those careers - other attributes like level of sociability, resilience, personality in general are just as important.

I also think it shows staggering maturity and good attitude on the part of your DC that they are more interested in the subject they aren't as good at than the subjects they are naturally gifted in and don't have to try at. I'm a bit baffled that you don't see what a good thing that is TBH. It indicates resilience to initial failure and a lack of ego about trying and trying again - these are among the most important lifeskills of all. You've done well!

My guess though TBH is that this is the first "profession" outside the normal, predictable ones that your DC has heard about and they've latched on to it a bit. At 14 I would be seeing it as an early indicator of the kind of things they want their career to involve - design, dealing with clients, solving problems etc. Those could come into lots of careers.

janey68 Tue 20-Nov-12 07:55:29

Excellent post mulledwine

MulledWineOnTheBusLady Tue 20-Nov-12 07:58:59


BeckAndCall Tue 20-Nov-12 08:00:25

Hi smokerings - I'm going to pretend the rest of this thread didn't happen and take a different tack altogether!

Can I suggest that you might feel better about her aspiration if you were to look at a couple of things - firstly the actual content of a graphic design degree (look at more than uni to get a sense of the range of modules and emphases on offer) and then look at a careers guide ( we have Cambridge COA) which shows a breadth of opportunities available to graphic designers. As well as straight forward design there are a whole range of possibilities - advertising (so slso draws on consumer psychology and client management skills) graphic novel design (so uses story telling and storyboarding skills too), and anything in the games industry - one of the most successful sectors of our economy.

So what I'm trying to say is that things are a bit different from our day - these new skills are highly thought of in our new creative economy and also a range of complementary skills are also needed to reach the 'top' as a graphic designer - so your DD will have a chance to shine if she is above average in a number of other ways. So she should keep her GCSE choices open and aim for A levels that will develop her skills in those areas that might be useful later - eg English lit, psychology, maybe business studies.

And how about you help her organise some work experience in the area? Maybe in an advertising agency or similar? She'd get a good idea of the real world of designers and you would have more exposure to the industry too.

Sorry that turned into an essay there! I'm interested in this as I am actually an accountant but in the creative arts sector....

SoupDragon Tue 20-Nov-12 08:16:20

To answer the question in your OP, no you are not being unreasonable.

It's perfectly OK to feel like that provided you support your child in whatever they choose and are pleased that they are happy. The key is that you never show that you feel they chose poorly. My oldest two children are top set material. One has wanted to be a doctor since he was 4. Should he change his mind and want to be, say, a potter, yes I will be disappointed but will support him and never let that disappointment show.

There seem to be a few posters here with their own issues.

Shakirasma Tue 20-Nov-12 08:18:07


I think one of the most Important keys to succeeding in any career is self motivation. With the highest iq in the world, if you are not enthused by your subject you will never be the best you can be.

Your child is interested in a perfectly respectable career, one that has the potential to be very financially rewarding.

Your job now as a parent is to respect your child's choice, encourage and motivate them to be the very best at it that they can possibly be.

And when you manage that, your child will probably change their mind anyway! Lol

cory Tue 20-Nov-12 08:24:11

As a university teacher in a well regarded subject at an RG university, can I just point out that I see a fair few of these students every year: no doubt full of academic potential and with a full set of A*s, but only there because their parents thought it was right for them? And that the one thing that is very very clear to all of us is that they are the ones who fail to fulfill their academic potential, because their heart simply isn't in it; they don't engage with the course and they often end up with very disappointing results. In my books, warming the seat of a lecture hall for three years does not in itself equate to fulfilling academic potential.

My own dd is very academic but wants to do A-level and BTech in drama with a view to applying for stage school. She understands perfectly well that this may well mean ending up running an unglamourous drama club in some uninspiring suburb, but she thinks she has potential for engaging and working with this area that might not be fulfilled if she pursued a different path. The way she sees it, her academic potential is only one part of her full potential and the creative side is equally important.

I'd do a deal with your youngster. 'Yes, I understand that you want to do this and there are great opportunities out there, but I want you to make sure you have a Plan B to fall back on if it doesn't work out'.

But don't assume that potential can only be fulfilled in one way. My parents spent a lot of time trying to persuade my db to return to education because they thought he had potential. In the end he took a job as a trawlerman. And worked his way up the ranks and went back and got qualifications and now has his captain's certificate and runs a large transport ship. His potential is being fulfilled, just not in a way they had ever envisaged.

My careers teacher wanted me to go into medicine because of my results. I would have been a rotten medic or scientist and would have hated every moment of it. But do love my current job as an academic in a different (and not very well paid) field. My potential is being stretched as much as it can; even at 14 I had a fair idea of where my real potential lay.

MulledWineOnTheBusLady Tue 20-Nov-12 08:38:54

There seem to be a few posters here with their own issues.

Yes, doesn't that make us worth listening to on this matter?

There is a lot of naivety around about the relationship between being academically bright and being automatically suited to the kinds of careers that have traditionally required a strong academic record. The OP is displaying it.

This is a great quote I try to re-read often:

"Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race." - Calvin Coolidge

goingupinsmoke Tue 20-Nov-12 08:45:00

YABU - and downright rude, some of the best creative minds are working in design right now, if it's of any interest to you maybe you should educate yourself in the industry she wants to work in, it happens to be very well paid, huge variety very exciting and most importantly it's a global transferable skill meaning he/she can up sticks away from interfering family members and work globally.

I have colleagues and friends who have worked and still work as CEO's for worldwide advertising agencies covering Asia middle east and africa. earning the sort of tear inducing amounts of money (if that is important)

The skills are also transferable to client side, so in later years he/she could become a brand manager for Rolls Royce as a sweeping example maybe then you would be proud?

Personally I think your DC sounds very bright choosing a career path at that age and knowing what she want to do is half the battle.

Graphic designers BTW are the people that make you buy a Volvo over a Vaxhaulll, they are the people who package up the christmas gifts you buy, they make you select one bottle of wine over another - they influence every since aspect of your waking moments in the world we live in. Which holidays you take with which branded company, you think your making choices? - Your being led down paths of selection by very skilled design and marketing done by clever designers.

DownTheRabidHole Tue 20-Nov-12 08:48:36

Of the two top brains in my academic year at grammar, the male jacked in science and is now a masseur and the woman is a p-t HR worker.

Others from my year are hairdressers, bus-drivers, bankers, doctors, recruitment consultants, SAHD(!), fashion designers, lecturers.

Ironically the hairdresser seems on of the happier with the most "stuff".

brainonastick Tue 20-Nov-12 08:52:02

You can't achieve in an area unless you are interested in it. Your DC is far more likely to do well if they follow their interests, rather than going just where the grades lead. If he is bright, then he'll be able to put his mind to most things, if he is motivated enough.

I got into Oxbridge to study economics, because my parents thought it was a good route to professional success. I lasted weeks as my heart wasn't in it. Luckily I managed to switch to a degree course that I was interested in, but otherwise I would have dropped out or done pretty badly. I still ended up in a dullsville career, and my life is the poorer for it.

SpicyPear Tue 20-Nov-12 08:55:09

Ummm, I think the fact that some of us have issues is exactly why we are posting. Because the kind of attitude shown by the OP can have very negative consequences for DCs if it's not checked. In my own case cronic stress from a job I was unsuited to and a breakdown.

wonkylegs Tue 20-Nov-12 08:57:07

My brilliant & academically bright sister is a graphic designer. I am truly in envy of her job & her talent.
As with a lot of careers mine included(architect) I think graphic Design suffers from the difference between perception & reality. There is a huge range of skills that go into the job some academic & some creative & some social/management. Careers like this can require incredibly flexible people with a range of skills. To me it is incredible that the people at the top of this field manage to balance all those skills out without becoming just good a bit of everything.
My DH has always jokingly referred to my degrees as 'blue peter' degrees (he's ver academic & a dr) until he realised what I actually did. Now he's more impressed.
I think the OP needs to stop worrying about their child and start researching what their ambition actually means.

CailinDana Tue 20-Nov-12 09:04:50

Don't fool yourself for one minute that your DC doesn't know how you feel. He/she absolutely does. I was academically gifted - I rarely got less than 98% in an exam - and the expectations on me were huge, mainly from my friends and from the school. My mother always took the "whatever you want to do" attitude but I knew, absolutely knew, that she hoped I would become a doctor or a lawyer so she could brag to her friends about me. Whenever I talked about what I actually wanted to do - psychology - she showed very little interest. So one night I tested her and said I was considering medicine instead. Her face lit up and she just couldn't help looking pleased. Thankfully I was cynical enough to recognise what was going on and I went and did psychology anyway, and loved it. However, feeling I wasn't living up to people's expectations (and people DO let you know that, some in subtle ways others not so subtle) was part of what led me to drift around for years feeling unsettled careerwise, and contributed to my depression.

In many ways being academically gifted is very hard in the sense that it's very difficult to go against the grain and do what you really want to do - people have so much invested in the idea that academic ability is a ticket to success that if they see you, as an academic person, not living up to that, they get quite annoyed and angry. Some of the things people said to me were shocking but the most annoying thing was the whole "It's a waste" bollocks. It implies that you as a person don't count, you're merely a slave to your ability and you have to live up to your "potential" regardless of whether you want to or not. It's almost as if being "able" gives you less choice rather than more - rather than being able to pretty much turn your hand to anything you are restricted to just a few "worthy" careers.

Anyway the long and the short of it is I'm now a SAHM working very part time and I'm very happy. I'm sure my mother still sees it as a "waste" but she can fuck off as far as I'm concerned. She was never interested in me as a person anyway.

wordfactory Tue 20-Nov-12 09:07:14

Of course you are not being unreasonable OP.

Worrying about our DC's future is part of our job description. Guiding our DC is also part of it.

I don't know much about graphic design, how challenging it is, how likely one is to make a career of it. I guess the first thing you need to do is some research?

teacher123 Tue 20-Nov-12 09:12:46

As a teacher, every year you see students trying desperately hard to please their parents and live up to their expectations, which can lead to a great deal of unhappiness. I understand that maybe you would prefer him to do something else, but I cannot urge you strongly enough to support his interests. He is much more likely to achieve well in a subject he enjoys. What I would encourage is researching what university courses are the highest regarded in that subject and also having a good spread of academic and non academic A levels so that he can keep his options open. If he's as bright as you say, he should be able to take 4 AS levels to A2, meaning that more university courses will be open to him. Before anyone takes offence at my dividing A levels into 'academic' and 'non-academic', I teach music, and am used to having to advise students to spread their risk depending on what they want to study at university. In an ideal world, all A levels and all university courses are equal, but this is definitely not the case.

tiggytape Tue 20-Nov-12 09:13:41

As someone who had a Brilliant Mind™ at school I think they're massively over-rated as an indicator of what kind of work you'll enjoy and be good at.

I totally agree with this. Many adults who had brilliant academic ability as children say the ability to get along with people and possess fantastic social skills outstrips academic ability in terms of getting on in the world / landing a great job and being successful in the high-flying career sense. Many of them see having been academically so advanced as something of a curse in this respect and also in the sense that it leads people to expect great things of them regardless of any other facets of personality such as confidence, motivation and ambition and other talents and interested beyond academic subjects.

I think you know YABU. The trick is either to become very good at hiding it or to genuinely try to change your expectations for DS based on him as a whole person not just his academic ability.

MrsHoarder Tue 20-Nov-12 09:16:51

I can't read all the messages debating whether or not this is a good idea. I just want to tell you about my parents. They are fairly pushy, which with me was occasionally irritating but what I wanted to do fell fairly in line with where I was being pushed so they were happy. With my middle brother it probably saved him from years of sitting around on the dole because he didn't want to do anything. But with my baby brother he knew what he wanted to do, it was a skilled trade. He wanted to go to college and get an NQV (?) and work in that trade.

Instead they pushed him into going to do A-levels. He got halfway through the first term, had a nervous breakdown, a suicide attempt and left home without speaking to my parents. He then spent 2 years recovering before even beginning to do anything and is still now living with them doing mostly unskilled manual labour.

I suspect that in the long run he will be successful, but it did a lot of damage. The most heartbreaking thing is that my mum doesn't seem to understand that he was under pressure from her. Needless to say I aim to be very careful not to do the same to DS.

Your DD is her own person, growing into an adult. Yes nudge her away from very damaging decisions but don't try to control her future if she wants to do something that isn't the future you had in mind for her. Its her life.

Startail Tue 20-Nov-12 09:19:38

DF is a doctor, mainly to please her dad and teachers, I suspect.
What else do you suggest to a girl who can pass science exams,but has good social skills.

She hates the technical side of medicine. It's taken years,much soul searching and a while doing something totally different for her to find a corner medicine that fits.

She's artistic, musical and brilliant with people of all ages, I've always wondered what she would have done if she'd gone to a big city comprehensive with lots of options. Not a small rural private school

Mrsjay Tue 20-Nov-12 09:22:25

It will possibly all change over the next few years, but I'm agonizing over this potential waste. And hating myself for being bothered by the lack of ambition.

DD is 19 and she didnt chose her career choice until she was 17 she chopped and changed her mind everyday , they are 14 years old they dont know what they want for breakfast some days leave them alone they will chose what they want in a few years time why are you dissapointed in a 14 yr old let them be let this go and they will choose their own way ,

YANBU! I am going against the tide here...If I knew what I knew now i would have fought to try and fulfil my potential and sometimes wish I had my time again. It is only natural to hope to see your children flourish and do acedemically the best they can and be happy.

My dd is only 7 but is doing very well at school, is set extra work top of class etc She was asking if she could live with me forever. I asked what kind of a job she would want to do and she said 'popstar'.
Such an innocent and predictable reply for a a 7 year old. I did have an inward 'cry' that this is what she aspires to do in this world. OF COURSE it will change but I still hope for better things for her.

It would be very unreasonable if you did not support your child's wishes. But we are all entitled to our inner thoughts and I fully understand yours. For what it is worth my parents didn't want anything for me because I was just a girl. Surely that mindet is far more unreasonable.

dysfunctionalme Tue 20-Nov-12 09:46:14

Being top is no picnic, possibly your ds is exploring ways to escape the pressure he may feel and a subject that isn't his strongest may seem like the way to go. For now.

But no, your feelings are not unreasonable at all. Of course they are not. It's how you manage them that is key and presumably you will continue to support your ds as before and, with time, you may find your feelings become more positive.

PrideOfChanur Tue 20-Nov-12 09:48:05

What leapt out at me from the OP is the comment on the "lack of desire to use a brilliant mind" Unless your DC is truly exceptional I think that is over egging the whole academic achievement thing.Perhaps your DC does have the potential to be truly exceptional,but being top in a grammar school doesn't prove this. I was at the top of my selective school - I don't have a brilliant mind IMO.I am clever,I am good at exams,I am academically inclined,and so are many other people.
The real waste is for someone to spend years in a job they don't enjoy and don't find fulfilling,if they have an alternative.

In my school "good at science" equated to "should study medicine" - luckily even at 17 I was sure I wasn't suited for medicine,and I was right.Academically,I could have done it,but I could not have coped with what working in medicine involves,and that must be true for many people and jobs.

14 is still very young,and academic achievement is only part of what a person has to offer.I do think it is worth talking about what your DC likes about graphic design,and also to discuss your feelings about what they would enjoy and be good at (there may be factors they haven't considered at all that would be relevant) but in the end people have to decide for themselves.

LettyAshton Tue 20-Nov-12 09:49:54

(Love that Calvin Coolidge quotation. More simply: clever is ok; hard-working is ok, but clever + hard work = unbeatable.)

There are, as always, a few variables on the OP's problem. I was never pushed by school or parents. I was one of the cleverest people at my top grammar school. I went to university, drifted around jobs, was directionless. I wish someone had spent five minutes giving me advice, a boot up the backside, anything.

Dh is a brilliant artist (and there's not much that's brilliant about him, so I am not habitually heaping praise on him!) but his mother who was very forceful and domineering made him study accountancy. Dh earns quite a lot of money, but has HATED his job for 25 years.

Ds is clever, but not especially passionate about anything. His last idea was to be Tim Vine hmm

Just an aside, but I'm noticing that every other kid now wants to do "Law", no matter how mediocre their qualifications - and they seem to be finding places, even if it's at the University of JustFoundedLastWeek. There's going to be a huge glut of lawyers in a few years time.

Mrsjay Tue 20-Nov-12 09:54:20

I do think at 14 it is a difficult time for a kids . my friend with older children saying to me , oh just you wait till she is 1
4 dd was all over the place at that age she was in top sets and was sure she wanted to go into something with physics,
they are just finding out who they are at 14 and developing into adults and being academic is fine but I do feel they need to explore the whole person rather than their academic achievements DD is into music and is now doing a music and sound engineering course so she is using the phsyics and her love of music , but it did take her till she was 17 to decide that is what she wanted to do,

DD2 is now 14 and she was always convinced she wanted to do 'something' with cooking and now she isn't too sure what she wants,

Mrsjay Tue 20-Nov-12 09:54:35


PrideOfChanur Tue 20-Nov-12 09:59:34

That is the problem - sorting out the people who are drifting,or misjudging what they are good at and would enjoy in a career,and who could do with advice and a bit of a push from someone from those who have actually found something they are good at and would be successful at and need support from their loved ones to follow that through,even if it isn't what the loved ones would have chosen for easy answer,really.

harryhausen Tue 20-Nov-12 10:02:50

You know OP, I think I get where your coming from.

I'm a full time successful Children's book illustrator. I was (am!) very academic and bright. I came very near the top of my class with most things except Maths and Physics. I said all my school life I wanted to study English Lit at university ( I even went as far as having a place) - but then changed to study at Art college at the last minute. I remember the moment clearly. My gut instinct was telling me something.

My parents weren't best pleased.

What followed were some great college years and then about 10 years of struggle. Now, I'm known in my field. Well published. I have a average decent salary can change year on year. It's not a really high wage earner BUT I'm hugely satisfied with my career. I'm constantly using my brain, visiting schools, colleges, giving lectures, coming up with creative things out if a void, great business skills.

YET despite all this, I said to my DH the other day that if one of my DC's said they wanted to do art there would be a tiny piece if me that would be disappointed. WHY? Goodness knows. The only thing I can think of is that as I'm surrounded my arty, creative types I see many if them struggle and I'd want to protect them from any if that.

However, in the last 15 years I've seen a fair few of my non- arty friends being made redundant out of the blue. I wouldn't want that either. I think we can't protect them from life.

I'm SO glad that my parents had the guts to support me in my decision ( although they were very panicked for a good few years). It would be horrible to not know whether or not I could have followed my dream.

Let your DC look into it. You can find average salaries on the Internet. It's a huge business, especially the design/computer end, but its exciting!


impty Tue 20-Nov-12 10:04:09

You sound like my Mum many, many years ago! I had the best exam results in my year, but wanted to be a graphic designer. Art and design wasn't my best subject either.
I was made to do A levels in the hope that I would see sense, then I took an Art Foundation course, which lasts a year. Some people during this year do decide full time Art is not for them, and apply to do a more academic degree.
I have a Graphic Arts degree, so none of that worked for me!
However, from my course there are some very successful people. Including someone who has there own multi national design company. Most are in regular paid employment in the design area, some are freelance, some are teachers, some teach at degree level. A few are still drifting... I don't think this is too different from many courses.
I was attracted to being creative, and being around creative people. It brought me much more satisfaction than a well worded essay.
This isn't your choice to make. At some point you have to start to let go, and let your children make their own way in life. I suspect this may be the hardest part of parenting....

Fairylea Tue 20-Nov-12 10:05:28

Goodness me. The child is 14!! At 14 I wanted to be a teacher. Then a year later I wanted to be an archaeologist.

A year after that I was all set to go to oxford to study English literature and become prime minister after founding my own political party after being a solicitor. Oh how naive I was!!

I did a year, hated it, packed it all in and became a mum. Went to work in a part time job. Then later went on to become a senior marketing manager. Then became a mum again and packed it all in again and now stay at home very happily!

Life is ever changing. Smile and nod and let dc find their own way.

I was very very academic. I just didn't enjoy the life it brought. Everyone is different.

harryhausen Tue 20-Nov-12 10:06:11

Now I think I sound like a bit of a knob. I shouldn't have described myself as VERY bright!
I'm no Stephen Hawking.grin

NightLark Tue 20-Nov-12 10:11:28

I also love the quote.

As an academic type myself, I think academic ability is a very over rated factor in job / career success. And in the end you just want your DC to be happy.

As you move on, you are gradually filtered into more and more selective groups. No matter how great you were at school, as an undergraduate, as a PhD student and so on, sooner or later you find a level where you are just one of the herd. Then is when you need to love what you do.

IMO, ability gives you choices, not a clear route to success.

I consider myself lucky to be in a position of choosing a job based on what I will enjoy and, in my case, it is likely to be an academic one. But it has taken me until I'm over 40 to come to that realisation (and leaving behind a vastly better paying career!)

Jingleflobba Tue 20-Nov-12 10:12:04

Funnily enough DS is 12 and wants to go into graphic design and I had no idea whatsoever about what it entails. Found a good link in the independant about it here:
OP I really do think you are being U but you know that. There is nothing wrong with wanting the best for your child, it's what we all want isn't it? Just let him/her get on with it. Fwiw, at 14 I wanted to either join the army or be a teacher. I did neither of these, I'm mostly a SAHM looking to do an OU course in English Lit at some point in the future.

Mrsjay Tue 20-Nov-12 10:13:14

Now I think I sound like a bit of a knob. I shouldn't have described myself as VERY bright!
I'm no Stephen Hawking

you don't sound like a knob at all grin nothing wrong in recognising you were academic well done for following your passion I wish I had I was at the other end of the scale parents didn't have very high expectations of me

we all worry about our children all the time and school and education is very important even if your child is the brainiest or not so much reaching out to a child especially as young teens as the the exam years are near is so important but realising they want to be something different to our expectations may be hard to accept but we need to support and guide them through all that smile

BeatTheClock Tue 20-Nov-12 10:20:41

I can empathise with your concern Smokerings. 14 is young it's true but 'options' loom which means you start to close off other avenues. Well maybe not close off totally, but you do begin steering one way or another.

It is good that a person has some sense of where they're headed at this age. My own dd is the same regarding art and design but although she loves art she's said many times that she sees herself in something to do with Psychology.

We were talking about this the other day. She wants to do art because she likes it but needs to do science because that holds the key to where she wants to be. Difficult choice if the gcse's clash and you have to choose one or the other.

I think you've been given a bit of a hard time on here. Interested parents who worry about thier dcs choices aren't necessarily pushy ones trying to live out their own dreams through their dc. Sometimes they can see a wider picture and at least you are interested and care. I wonder if your 'disappointment' is really worry that the subject itself has a reputation for being so difficult to crack regarding jobs/careers.

I was always excellent at art at school, went down that route but struggled hugely when it came to work in that area. Mind you my parents weren't in the least supportive of further education and def not in art which I knew they saw only as a hobby and seemed relieved when I just went and got any job. I was too because I couldn't do it without at least some help from them and it was clear they weren't going to offer it. I felt that if I couldnt have the career I wanted then I'd take whatever independance a job I didn't love could give me insteadsad Part of me has always been disappointed in that part of my life and their lack of support. I don't want that to happen to my dc.

harryhausen Tue 20-Nov-12 10:51:24

Some people I know personally have gone onto these careers from studying art & design -

IT, & web design.
Graphic Design.
3D packaging design
Book publishing.

I we're not stupid on here, but I recently spent a day in a well renowned private school with Y6 and some Y8 pupils. The passion & talent some children showed for art was incredible. One bit came to me afterwards and said he wanted to study animation and film making but he dad wouldn't allow him - he wanted him to study Law.

I think the careers service (whatever there is of it) really needs to start educating more children AND their parents about what careers can come from a subject that's often described in the press as a 'soft' subject.

Not aiming that at the OP, just musing (and slightly ranting) in general.

harryhausen Tue 20-Nov-12 10:52:03

Sorry for typos. On my phone.

Mrsjay Tue 20-Nov-12 10:57:49

really needs to start educating more children AND their parents about what careers can come from a subject that's often described in the press as a 'soft' subject.

Agree with you people muttering and scoffing at 'soft subjects' really annoys me I know children who were not allowed to take music or art because they didnt think it would count for anything It is ok for a child to take a subject they enjoy and are maybe good at but they are brushed aside because they need to take a 3rd science or something., I must admit the high schools dds went to go to do encourage children to take a subject the like but sometimrd it is the parents that are ticking options forms <rolls eyes>

I wish my 19 year old had any idea of what direction he would like to go with a career, let alone my 14 year old be nice if I had any idea of what I would like to do but that's another thread. If your DC is going to be happy doing their graphic design then encourage them to follow their heart. I know too many people (DH, and 2 DBs) who hate their jobs and wish they had done something very different, despite having great salaries. Honestly, achieving their full academic potential is a long way down on my priorities, my main aim for their school years is that they leave with school with options for later in life. I had a bright friend who worked for a supermarket on checkouts for 20 years, no ambition at all to even become a team leader but when he got bored and wanted more money he had a degree under his belt so could move on. Others aren't so lucky and get stuck, having worked their way up but with no official qualifications to allow them to move out.

Mrsjay Tue 20-Nov-12 11:01:54

smokerings what were your aspirations for your child what did you hope they would do or be interested in ?

So he's academically brilliant AND creative enough to do graphic design?? Jeez, what more can you ask for?!! As others have said, he's 14!! He has many, many years to make his mind up (I've changed careers 3 times and will probably do so again). I think you need to chill out a little smile

MulledWineOnTheBusLady Tue 20-Nov-12 11:15:10

Totally agree HarryHausen. And not just that people scoff at "soft subjects", but the reverse attitude, that people think doing a law degree is an immediate passport to success. It isn't, it just opens doors. You've got to want to walk through them, the work doesn't stop when you pass your last exams.

I've ended up thinking that the whole of school was a bit of a con TBH. Not that it's not good to do well, obviously, but it's an isolated, rule-bound system in which x amount of effort and cleverness will always yield y result. This is nothing like real life, which isn't always fair or predictable and certainly doesn't churn out rewards for people solely on account of their being clever.

which x amount of effort and cleverness will always yield y result

So true. The two most successful people I know were not very academic at all. One hasn't even got any GCSEs but has done incredibly well for himself.

LettyAshton Tue 20-Nov-12 11:38:39

Well, I suppose they yield more success than not trying at all. There are certain careers in which the playing field is more level - civil service, accountancy, medicine. But it is true that very often success in advertising, PR, journalism, television etc is not predicated by size of brain or effort expended. These places are paved with people who have been trampled underfoot by those who have better connections, are more attractive, are conniving creeps or just have good luck.

LaQueen Tue 20-Nov-12 12:55:46


Far better to have a child happy and feeling fulfilled in their job, than have them stressed and resentful in a tough job, that challenges them.

DD1 clearly has an academic brain, has high SATS results, and is on-target for a GS place next year - but, her personaility is very gentle, and compassionate and all she has ever wanted to do for a career is work at The Dog's Trust (she adores animals, always has).

With her brain she could be a vet. But, I don't think she has ambition, or the desire to study so hard, for so long.

I would be perfectly happy for her to pursue a career as a vet nurse, instead - so long as she was enjoying her job (and still had an excellent GS education to fall back on, if she wanted to re-train later).

Ixia Tue 20-Nov-12 12:58:58

Just shock that graphic design is not considered a desirable career, really can't get my head around that to even comment further.

SpicyPear Tue 20-Nov-12 13:02:17

Oh LaQueen your daughter is very lucky to have a parent that understands her like that.

(Descends into weird and disturbing fantasy that LaQueen is my mum even though I'm a full grown adult....)

LaQueen Tue 20-Nov-12 13:02:25

DH has employed graphic designers for years - certainly get paid far more than I ever did, despite my having a supposedly more academic degree and working in academia for 10 years hmm

imnotmymum Tue 20-Nov-12 13:05:12

He is 14 and personally graphic designer sounds a good career to me starts about 14k as a junior so know not great but can work up to be a creative director 65+ per year. Again have to echo will probably change mind I wanted to be a vet, police officer, model, teacher, architect ... Could be worse my DS wants to be a hot chocolate maker in Finland.

LaQueen Tue 20-Nov-12 13:07:13

Spicy it's only because I see myself in her, in so many ways.

I was always very clever, but was never remotely career ambitious - I chose to work for a (relative) pittance, with dusty book collections, in a university library for 10 years...but I adored my job, and actually looked forward to Monday mornings smile

I luff my DD1, and would love for her to be as happy in her chosen job, as I was in mine smile

Whoknowswhocares Tue 20-Nov-12 13:07:56

At 14 the are likely to change their minds a dozen times yet! The best thing is for her to not narrow her choices and study a wide range of subjects at GCSE and A level. Then go from there

I have 2 graphic designers in the family. Both actively enjoy going to work, have good salaries, prospects etc. One started out as a standard graphic designer and moved over time to senior director (and board member) level of a national newspaper. He is a member of Mensa. IT'S NOT A DEAD END JOB FGS, LIGHTEN UP!

Smokerings Tue 20-Nov-12 13:13:08

I would be perfectly happy for the child to do a career which is heart-driven. Massive financial reward is not really high on my criteria for my DC's futures. Just contentment.
This thread is about my angst that I am saddened that despite being mathematically (predominantly) exceptional, the child is veering towards a career (atm, I'm fully aware that this may, and most likely, will change) in which they display the least capacity and flair for.
Thank you to all those who have read my posts - your responses have been most help and supportive.
To the others who think I am driven financially, by status or that I look down on Graphic design, well, stop the assumptions and read my actual words as it's very tedious to read your judgemental comments. My placement of my feelings re this were very clear from the OP.
Where did I say that it wasn't a desirable career? hmm
And I didn't say the child was creative enough, MrsMinivers.
Basically - RTFT.

Smokerings Tue 20-Nov-12 13:18:59

To simplify, let's hypothesise:
I have a child that is brilliant at piano. Every single professional who has met this child tells me that they are the most brilliant pianist they have ever encountered. Natural flair, capacity and drive.
Now, let's assume that this child wants to become a professional footballer - an avenue where they are only adequately skilled.
Is it so bloody unnatural of me to be saddened by this "waste" (can't think of a better phrase)? And is it unreasonable of me to berate myself fir this sadness?
Swap the above for Maths and Design.
Is that so hard to comprehend?

Smokerings Tue 20-Nov-12 13:21:27

Please also note that I have reiterated that I don't let this child know my feelings, in fact have encouraged the purchase of relevant design books.
I will have a look at the Independent link, thank you Jingle.

brainonastick Tue 20-Nov-12 13:23:21

But it's only a waste if the child also wanted to be a pianist, but couldn't for some reason. Ywnbu to be saddened that they didn't want to be pianist, but Yabu to describe it as a 'waste'. A 'shame' maybe, in a mild sense, but not a waste, with all the disappointment and let-down that involves.

Nothing is wasted if there is no desire or inclination to pursue that direction.

goingupinsmoke Tue 20-Nov-12 13:25:01

Sorry I'm back again and enjoying the creatives on here sticking up for the industry.

I just wanted to add at the age of 5 I wanted to be a designer and told my mum, I did do science A'Levels to balance the academic qualifications and my then school allowed me to shift around the timetable as the A'levels of Art / biology and geology didn't timetable I was expected to do history and english I guess.

Graphic designers in germany are called Visual Engineers and it's far more of a science than a creative "Arts" career.

goingupinsmoke Tue 20-Nov-12 13:28:43

OP - You clearly said it wasn't desirable career by using the words "Waste"

And then by adding (please please don't think I'm being disrepectful regarding Graphic Design, it's just not as academic as this child could achieve)

Which is basically saying that people working in graphic design are maybe a bit academically challenged?

MooncupGoddess Tue 20-Nov-12 13:31:48

Hmm. Is he world-beatingly exceptional (International Maths Olympiad, could waltz through A level further maths tomorrow if he wanted) or just very able? I knew quite a few people at Cambridge who got a place in maths no problem but then hit a brick wall at some point and dropped out. Maths is like that. I don't think you can often tell at this stage.

Also, hardcore theoretical mathematics is a vocation rather than a career. If he's not spending his entire time writing complex computer problems and trying to re-solve Fermat's Last Theorem then probably he's not going to spend his life as a mathematician - and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Whoknowswhocares Tue 20-Nov-12 13:38:28

Regardless of ability, I'd say that most self respecting 14 year olds would like the sound of being a graphic designer more than an accountant/mathematician!

You are being a little unrealistic to expect otherwise! Maybe time will change it, maybe it won't. But the oly person who will have to live with the decision is the child......and if they are really that gifted they can always retrain if they feel they have made the wrong choice

Woozley Tue 20-Nov-12 13:39:19

What career would you prefer him/her to have, Smokerings?

I was academic at school but also quite arty and practical though, and also loved dancing and performing but I never thought I was good enough at it to make a career at it. I felt I ought to do subjects which were seen as academic and ended up doing law at university and then practising as a lawyer for ten years. Now, I don't regret my choices, I think I made the best ones I could at the time. But the best job anyone can do and the best course at university anyone can do is one they enjoy, you will almost always succeed in something you have a passion for. Whereas if it's something you hate, or can only tolerate it is much much harder to do a good job at it. Though I knew being a lawyer wasn't something I'd do all my life, only recently have I worked out how much practical and creative stuff is important to me.

If you have an arty, practical, outdoorsy or creative bone in your body, no matter how academic you also might be I'd say for God's sake don't go down the route of a dullsville city type job making money for already rich people in tax, accountancy, law, insurance, banking or whatever. I don't care how well paid they are or what the purported status of such jobs is, that's the sort of job I would be steering DDs away from (though if they wanted to do that, fine) and something like graphic designer has so much scope and would be a totally brilliant career. For that you need brains, creativity, practicality and if he/she got into a more technical side, very good maths would come to the fore as well.

FrankincenseWippery Tue 20-Nov-12 13:39:24

Smokerings, I don't think you are being unreasonable in the way you feel at all. My oldest DD has just started at Bristol. She was exceptionally bright through to about year nine and dreamt of being a doctor. Then a combination of not giving a shit and playing hard brought her back down to earth somewhat and she then trundled along. Certainly in the top fifth of her year, but not leading the way as she had.

In the end she achieved three As in her A Levels and chose a totally different degree and potential career path and is loving every second of university, from the piss ups to the hard work. I am so proud of her for doing what she wants, but with the constant attitude of aiming high in what she wants to do.

DD2 is off the scale bright (fuck knows how!) and has wanted to be a lawyer since she was 7 years old. She's had offers from all her chosen universities and has the pleasure of including Oxford in that list. I think, if I'm honest, I was slightly disappointed in DD1's choice initially, but after the year we've had (their father dying from and my diagnosis of cancer) frankly they can do whatever they want, so long as they are happy and secure in their choices.

Just guide, that's what we should be doing. Guiding them on their paths, not steering.

CailinDana Tue 20-Nov-12 13:40:02

Being good at something doesn't automatically mean you should pursue a career in it, or that you'll be any good at a career that involves it. My DH and I are perfect examples of this. My DH can't spell for toffee and isn't great with language but is brilliant at maths yet he chose psychology at degree level, same as me, which is a very language-driven discipline with relatively little maths. His school results would have led you to believe he would be a disaster at it. In actual fact he is brilliant at it and has had great success. In contrast, I was always language oriented and I have gone nowhere with psychology.

I was always brilliant at languages but there is no way I would have pursued a career that involved languages - it just didn't interest me at all. You seem to think your DS/DD owes the world something - as in he/she "should" use their talent, otherwise it's a "waste." It's not a great outlook to have. Your DC will actually have to live the life they choose. No one will thank them for not "wasting" their talent. It makes far more sense to choose a desired career rather than an easy one, don't you think?

LaQueen Tue 20-Nov-12 13:45:18

Cailin agree.

DH was exceptionally gifted at maths all through school. Always won the maths prize at his GS. Oxford Open exam for maths etc...but, it bored him senseless.

Infact, he dropped his maths at university, and did Computer Science instead.

Illgetmycoat Tue 20-Nov-12 13:48:14

ROLF at graphic design being a disappointing career choice. I think that you need to do a bit more research OP(!) There's plenty of room for glory. Pick up a copy of Creative Review as a starting point.

nochipsthanks Tue 20-Nov-12 13:55:24

Well, to take your piano analogy, if you push them too hard to practice you will put them off for life.

maybe just relax a bit and let your Dc choose for themelves? They might come back to whatever it is they are really gifted at. Mind you, they might eb sick to the bloody back teeth of everyone focusing on their gift and asking themselves if anyone cares about the real them beyond that gift.

(I wanted to be a showjumper when I was 14.)

EscapeInTheCity Tue 20-Nov-12 14:05:34

OP I can totally understand where you are coming from. You see the potential in your child and you also see the 'waste' of potential if he chooses a path where he will not use this potential.
I know, from me, this is coming from the fact that I have always been told to develop my abilities/potentials to the full with the assumptions that developing those would mean having the opportunity to do something you enjoy (because the assumption again is that you are not usually good at something you don't like and that you should be enjoying something that you like).

My own experience is that I was very good at science. I did very well at science and got a good job in that particular area I loved (Chemistry). Except that, even though I loved and still love the subject, it wasn't really fulfilling for me. There is another side to me which loves interaction with people, one that loves just working with my intuition, going with the flow, all of which is just impossible in that career.
I am very very lucky that I could retrain in a job that is more appropriate for me.

I still use my ability and my brain though. Just in a different way.
Because my ability isn't just about doing maths and science. It's much more than that because I am much more than an ability to do maths.

What I am trying to say is to be careful to reduce your ds to his ability. Yes he has a fantastic advantage. Yes he has a fantastic ability that can also be translated to other things other than maths.
And I suspect he also has other abilities that aren't evaluated by our current school system.

You are totally right in wanting him to draw on these abilities. Just don't forget that the way school evaluates abilities might not reflect the true potential of your ds.

nochipsthanks Tue 20-Nov-12 14:07:24

Sorry OP, my post sounded a bit fighty. blush

Escape said it much more eloqently than me. smile

EscapeInTheCity Tue 20-Nov-12 14:08:24

noch that is actually not true.
Very gifted musicians who make it at the top level do so because they have been pushed supported during the teenage years where they were more likely to want to go out and party rather than study music 5 hours a day.

Very gifted musicians are like this thanks to hard work and ability. Remove the work and there is little left.

EscapeInTheCity Tue 20-Nov-12 14:08:52

x post... I see we are on the same lines grin

Rollmops Tue 20-Nov-12 14:08:56

YANBU. Where's Xenia when you need her?!

achillea Tue 20-Nov-12 14:10:56

You say you are churned up about this, and I appreciate your honesty.

In order to feel better about it perhaps you need to find out why he is choosing this. He's choosing a career that doesn't involve maths for a reason.

One reason may be that G&T people find their subject easy and enjoyable, second nature and really don't appreciate it, so doesn't see the point in studying it further.

Another is that he may be hugely afraid of where it will take him - either towards a point where he won't be top of the game any more (afraid of competition), or to a point where his genius will be out of control and he won't know where to stop (being a mathematician may not be what he wants to be).

Another is that the reasons are neurological. He is good at left brain activity, perhaps his right side needs to get stronger and he is naturally redressing the balance. It is perfectly possible that, like other neurological systems, when one is overloaded the other starts to compensate, so he is getting natural urges to explore creativity.

Or, as I don't know you, you may have assumed all his life he was brilliant at maths when he was just trying to please you or his teachers and that was a way to do it, and perhaps now he's found enough testosterone in his system to rebel?

Ask him.

nochipsthanks Tue 20-Nov-12 14:11:08

Yes yes, but you know what i was trying to get at. I was gifted at the flute, and was pushed and pushed and pushed. Even now DM sometimes asks wistfully 'oh do you ever pick up your flute? you were so good at is such a waste.' and it makes me stabby.

So, I am not a flautist, OR a showjumper!

ConferencePear Tue 20-Nov-12 14:11:13

I used to have a job where I helped pupils with their A level choices. Those, usually boys, who were very good at science often said that they wanted to study medicine. My heart used to sink at the prospect that in ten year's time one of them might actually be treating me because they had so few of the things that I would think necessary for a good doctor. They just did it because it was the things that clever kids did. We don't need doctors like that.
Let your child follow his dream; it's not as if he is planning to become a drug dealer or worse.

nochipsthanks Tue 20-Nov-12 14:12:04

x-post again Escape ;)

Chandon Tue 20-Nov-12 14:18:26

OP, what are you good at yourself, and do you work in this area?

I think to have a serious focus so young is brilliant! Having a sensible goal is great.

Also, he is 14 and may change his mind again at 17

FWIW, My DS who is shy and not very academic says he wants to be a fisherman. Wish me luck with that one.

Also, I remember my parents being disappointed when I studied law, as it wasn't a proper science...


achillea Tue 20-Nov-12 14:19:53

I hate the term gifted. It is down to hard work and pushy parents. Many pushy parents are just abusive and controlling nutters, then turn around later when they get 'stabby' as chips is still, and are disappointed. I have seen it with friends. Their child is 'bookish' (only because they don't let them watch TV and it's the next best thing) or 'very bright' (because they make them memorise the planets before they can read). Or 'sociable' because they are insecure and need approval from others all the time. Or 'musical' (because they send them to lessons very early on and it's they only time their parents are interested in them. It's all kidding-yourself bollox.

kerala Tue 20-Nov-12 14:24:00

Leave him alone to find his own way. My super bright sister turned down Oxford to go to art college. My parents must have been hmm but didnt say anything. Ended up doing History of Art, getting a First now has a super high powered interesting job at a top gallery envy. If my parents had insisted she did English at Oxford she would not be having the life she has today which is perfect for her.

EscapeInTheCity Tue 20-Nov-12 14:24:18

achillea some children ARE gifted though.... Even wo 'pushy' parents...

Of course, no child who is never given music lessons will become a 'gifted' musician by the age of 15yo.
But then it's not because a child has had music lessons from an early age that they will be gifted.

Miggsie Tue 20-Nov-12 14:27:07

Actually some kids just are gifted, my DD does really no work at all and is always top of the class. She does her homework in class. I have no idea what she is studying, I never bother to look at her homework and she doesn't mention it very often. She is still top, so she's doing something right.
She is also bloody good at sports.

On the main topic of the conversation: graphic designer as a job is very very badly paid.
DH does artwork as a hobby - for which he gets paid, and I'd recommend that route, most graphic designers get £15k a year as there is just so many of them.

nokidshere Tue 20-Nov-12 14:31:14

Just an aside, but I'm noticing that every other kid now wants to do "Law", no matter how mediocre their qualifications - and they seem to be finding places, even if it's at the University of JustFoundedLastWeek. There's going to be a huge glut of lawyers in a few years time.

My 11 year old wants to be a lawyer because he can then wear a suit everyday grin but then last week he was going to be a marine biologist and this week he is looking at other jobs where he might be able to wear a suit everyday lol

14 is way to young for most people to settle on a careeer path - stop woorrying and let him get on with it.

FrankincenseWippery Tue 20-Nov-12 14:33:02

Achillea - I would say that my DD2 is incredibly gifted. I am, however, the least pushy parent one could meet. They all work at their own pace - it's not my future they're working for, it's theirs. Should they wish to piss it up a wall, of course I'd be disappointed, but having been pushed too hard myself, I was not and am not prepared to push my children.

I have instilled a degree of drive in my two older daughters and my son, and they use that drive and determination to achieve what suits them. When their father died, not long before their exams this summer, I said that if it was all a bit much, too soon, then to take a step back to reflect and defer everything for a year. Fuck that, they had so much will and determination and wiped the floor with their results.

I can't bear pushy parents, their children become robots ime, and can't wait to get the fuck away, often achieving fuck all almost to spite them. I know I did. But, I also know that I do t regret my decision to skip university one little bit.

FrankincenseWippery Tue 20-Nov-12 14:35:49

nokids my DD2 wanted to become a lawyer because "I am good at arguing, I like arguing, so they may as well pay me for it". This was age 7, and is still one of her little reasons! Although she is actually reading geography, and will follow with a law conversion as she wants to broaden her knowledge in a subject she is passionate about.

Flatbread Tue 20-Nov-12 14:37:10

I think you should be hands-on regarding what your child does. If he is gifted, make sure he does all the math and science courses, so he is not closing options.

I think at that age they are too young to know the consequences of their choices. It is up to you, to guide them gently so that they make career choices that open opportunities for them.

legalalien Tue 20-Nov-12 14:42:13

At that age I think the main thing is to make sure he doesn't close off his options in any significant way.

Fwiw my strengths at school were maths and physics, but my love was history. I signed up for a BA majoring in maths with a history component. And then in the first week of uni I started reading someone's first year law materials sitting in the sun on the university lawn. I was hooked! And changed my course. Still love law probably because i don't have an artistic or outdoorsy bone in my body, i do however take umbrage at the idea that law is not creative but if I had a penny for every miserable law firm trainee I had met who, having qualified, found they didn't actually like the job, I'd be rich.

Lefty there is already a big glut of lawyers out there. On the bright side, law does, if taught properly, give you some useful transferable skills.

achillea Tue 20-Nov-12 14:44:32

Frankincense your evaluation of yourself as being a pushy/not pushy parent is fully of hypocrisy.

Pushy parents forget that all children want to do when they are young is please their parents. In the end that is what drives them. Parents that are not pushy don't even talk about a child's future career, they allow them to live in the moment and be children while they still are children.

achillea Tue 20-Nov-12 14:48:36

Sorry Frankincense, I'm in a very bad mood! I shouldn't be on this thread, it has touched a nerve. You didn't deserve that really. smile

Ihatemakingpackedlunches Tue 20-Nov-12 14:51:33

Just because he wants to be a graphic designer NOW does not mean it will or even can happen. The most likely route would be to do a foundation year in art & design post A levels which covers all aspects of art & design. On my foundation course a good 20 yrs ago I distinctly remember a friend who was set on studying graphic design who ended up doing a fine art at degree - and one that was set on fine art that went on to be a very successful graphic designer. Your ds is expressing interest in a design career - & yes many posters are correct that it can be very satisfying & lucrative, it is also extremely competitive to get onto decent courses that lead to the decent jobs.
In a couple of years you will know whether he is good enough to get onto a foundation course anyway - if design & technology is his weakest subject he honestly may not be "arty" enough - in "the old days" you had to be very very good or brilliant at art to get onto a foundation course - whether it is the same now I am not sure...

FrankincenseWippery Tue 20-Nov-12 14:51:40

Bullshit Achillea. Where did I say we talked about their future career? I didn't. They said what they wanted to do then moved on to play outside, inside, wherever. I will always support my children in whatever they want to do, like I said if I was a pushy parent, I think it highly unlikely that I would have suggested that they take a step back from school this year when their father died.

My older children are 19, 18 and 16 - adults/almost adults. If I can't have a fucking conversation with them at these ages about what they would like to do, I'd think there was something seriously wrong with me. My youngest is 3 and is happiest playing in mud.

Still, we can't all be fucking perfect and full of self righteousness can we now. Fucking hell. You sound so terribly aggressive. Never mind.

FrankincenseWippery Tue 20-Nov-12 14:52:36

X-posts. No, I didn't really. Thank you for recognising it.

Ihatemakingpackedlunches Tue 20-Nov-12 14:53:31

...& even those who did get on to a foundation course did not necessarily make it onto the degree course of their choice... sorry sounding negative here and perhaps nowadays its easier.

nochipsthanks Tue 20-Nov-12 14:55:27

we should start a new bad mood thread cause I am in a right mood too. (Just found out that my boss is talking to HR about staffing cuts.... only 7 in my department and i am the only part timer...)

[wonders if the showjumping window is closed... conveniently forgets that i no longer ride...]

CailinDana Tue 20-Nov-12 14:59:38

Achillea I disagree. I definitely was gifted - I found schoolwork an absolute doddle. Of course, it's a completely useless thing to be good at because you eventually leave school and have to operate in the real world. My parents weren't the least bit pushy, in fact they showed no interest in me at all. I wrote a book when I was 7, something most parents would have been blown away at I would have thought. They might at least have kept the book and made some fuss over it. My mother sort of laughed at it and I wouldn't be surprised if it ended up in the bin. I don't have the stomach to ask about it, it would upset me too much.

higgle Tue 20-Nov-12 16:02:46

DS2 is just 18 and in his final year at school, he is a good allrounder and at or near the top in all his subjects, straight A* at GCSE and quite a sensible chap too. However his career aspirations have chaged remarkably over the last few years. Before GCSE's it was all Chemistry, after GCSE's it was Classics at Oxford that became his ambition. He does Latin, English, Geography and Art for A level and is now aspiring to a degree in Fashion Marketing, and has just put in his university applications. I just want him to do whateverhe enjoys and will make him happy. In every field there are some people who are high flyers and he will just have to work hard and develop his talents to ensure he is one of them.

DS1 is one of the few graduates in his year to go straight into a "proper" job and the aspiring lawyers and accountants have had a bit of a struggle to find placements this time round.

MulledWineOnTheBusLady Tue 20-Nov-12 17:21:09

This thread is about my angst that I am saddened that despite being mathematically (predominantly) exceptional, the child is veering towards a career (atm, I'm fully aware that this may, and most likely, will change) in which they display the least capacity and flair for.

I get that you're not being pushy, you're not anti-creative, you'll conceal any disappointment etc.

But you still haven't understood that you might just be completely and totally wrong about this. Whatever it is you think your DC should be doing with that maths ability, you should consider the possibility, not only that they don't want to do it, but that they might not be very good at it. For all sorts of reasons which have nothing at all to do with their academic giftedness.

This matchy matchy of good subjects at school with career sectors is incredibly naive. Very, very few people actually choose their careers like that.

Mrsjay Tue 20-Nov-12 17:34:16

DDs friend went to do LAW cos she was clever ( her grannies words) she dropped out this year I do think teenagers need to focus on what they want to do achieve not what parents expect them to do

Mrsjay Tue 20-Nov-12 17:38:43

Swap the above for Maths and Design.
Is that so hard to comprehend?

ID rather my child was a designer than a mathamatician tbh what can an adult do with maths work in a bank be in Finance a Teacher a Lecturer Trying to think what else, TBH I know you are upset but you seem such a snob about it you cant help how you feel but do try and turn it into a positive your child might not be a great mathamatician but your child could go into graphic design and have a fantastic career,

SoupDragon Tue 20-Nov-12 18:15:44

Could you be more patronising/condescending?

kerala Tue 20-Nov-12 18:18:55

Re glut of lawyers they will get weeded out when it comes to finding a training contract. Basically if you havent got a 2:1 from a good University forget it and even then its a struggle.

Still not a bad degree to do know lots of people that did a law degree but didnt become a lawyer you can go into lots of things planning etc.

cory Tue 20-Nov-12 18:28:40

Going back to the music analogy, unless your child really passionately loved music, would you really want him to be forced to spend hour after hour practising, sacrificing his studies and social life, and then have to spend his working life in a very hard competitive job where everybody except himself was passionate about what they were doing?

My own db did prepare for the career as a violinist, so I have an idea of the work it entails. (He didn't make the grade in the end as he was found to have a slight stiffness in his fingers- not apparent to anybody non-professional, but enough to scupper his career plans.) I think he found it worth it because he really loved what he was doing, but there is no way a sensible person would put themselves through that, however gifted they were, just out of a sense of duty to their talent. Noone is gifted enough to get a musical career without a lot of hard work and sacrifice.

Supposing he was a gifted athlete, would you expect him to put himself through what athletes have to go through if he didn't really care about winning? Just because he had been given that talent?

My ds does seem to have a lot of natural talent for acting: his timing is brilliant and the way he delivers a line (particularly when trying to talk his way out of trouble) is just very, very funny. So yes, if he doesn't do anything about his acting it will be a talent wasted. But there is no way I want him to face such hard work and insecurity unless his heart is in it. If it was, then I'd support him all the way.

Even an ordinary BSc or BA can be very painful if you don't happen to enjoy it. Noone is so gifted that their essays just write themselves.

cory Tue 20-Nov-12 18:33:32

And absolutely agree that you can't do direct matches between school subjects and careers. Being very good at maths at GCSE level doesn't necessarily translate into doing a successful degree or career based on mathematics. Then again, he may well find a way of using his mathematical talent for his career as a graphic designer. Or vice versa.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Tue 20-Nov-12 18:53:37

I fulfilled my academic potential and it did not make me happy. It led me into a career that was totally unsuitable.

What made me happy was knowing myself better and pursuing something that fitted who I am (morally, philosophically), what I enjoy doing and what I am good at.

You say you know it is about happiness but I don't think you really do know that unless you've been deeply unhappy about pursuing a course of action that was wrong for you.

I want my children to be enquiring and passionate. I want them to have space to find something they love, to jump through enough hoops (ie achieve well enough in subjects they don't love, but need) to get them there, but beyond that to find a way to do a job that they love.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Tue 20-Nov-12 18:58:25

But I'm not criticising you. I get where you are coming from.

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