Parents are often influenced by the most irrelevant of prejudices in counseling their children as to vocation. A man who has had an unfortunate experience with a lawyer is very likely to oppose strenuously any move on the part of his son to study and practice law. Many practical men have intense prejudices against art, music, literature, and other such professions for their sons. The number of parents who are prejudiced against a college education is legion. On the other hand, there are a goodly number of men who are prejudiced against any vocation for their sons which does not involve a college education.
Many parents who have worked hard and toiled unremittingly at any particular profession oftentimes feel that they want their children to do something easier, something requiring less drudgery, and so bitterly oppose their following in their fathers’ footsteps. On the other hand, many fathers are domineering in their determination that their sons shall follow the same vocation in which they made their success.
Parents are often prejudiced in favor of vocations followed by dear friends or by men whom they greatly admire. A successful lawyer, preacher, engineer, or business man will influence the choice of vocations for the children of many of his admiring friends and acquaintances.
Multitudes of parents have foolish prejudices against any kind of work which soils the hands or clothing—even against the dinner-pail. On the other hand, hard-fisted parents may have prejudices against any vocation which keeps the hands soft and white, and the clothing clean and fine.
Thus, in many ways do the prejudices of parents, based upon ignorance, work tragedy in the lives of children. Either through a sense of duty and loyalty or because they have not sufficient solid masonry in their backbones, children follow the wishes of their parents and many all but ruin their lives as a result.
“The learned professions”
One of the most disastrous prejudices upon the part of parents is that in favor of what are called “the learned professions.” To make a lawyer, a physician, or a minister of one’s son is held to be the highest ambition on the part of large numbers of otherwise intelligent fathers and mothers. The result of this kind of prejudice on the part of so many parents is that the so-called learned professions are over-crowded—and overcrowded with men and women unfitted for their tasks, both by natural inheritance and by education and training. There follows mediocre Work, poor service, low pay, poverty, disease, and misery.
There are traditions in some families which carry their curse along with them down through the generations. There are families of preachers, families of soldiers, families of lawyers, families of physicians, families of teachers. Many a young man who would have otherwise been a success in the world has toiled along at a poor, dying rate, trying to live up to the family tradition and make a success of himself as a teacher, or lawyer, when he ought to have been a mechanic, an actor, or a banker.