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The child is 22 months old.

The father wants the child to become a doctor. He is planning to create such an environment around the child such that the child starts thinking that she must become a doctor until she actually does.

Also, since I am fond of reading, I read to this child and she loves it. She'd prefer my reading books to her more than her toys many times.

My cousin didn't read to her child when she was 2 and now she tells me that her child (now turned 5) doesn't show any interest in reading.

Question is that are people born with some dedicated interests or it is possible to thrust a different interest on them such they eventually become interested in that interest?

  • Yes, it is possible to make a child go down a certain career path with them thinking that it is their dream to do it. It depends on the environment around the child. – one2three Apr 30 '15 at 10:37
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    Both ;) and be carefull, if you push something to much, the kid might just rebell and do the opposite. Also, read up on children that are depress because the parents push them to do something example. – the_lotus Apr 30 '15 at 16:01
  • Are you asking as in "I want to do this", or asking as in "I am worried I might be doing this and don't want to", or neither? – Joe Apr 30 '15 at 16:25
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    I know a man who raised his child in exactly this way. The child is indeed now a doctor -- in a different country then the one he grew up in. So dad got what he wanted, but he never sees his son anymore. – Shiz Z. Apr 30 '15 at 18:20
  • It did with me. Until I was living that wish for ten years and realized I hated it. – corsiKa Apr 30 '15 at 19:44
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Parents have a large influence on their children, but not as large as many people think. Biologically speaking, kids tend to be similar to their parents, and that includes sharing interests. Just because you do an activity with a child doesn't mean she wouldn't like it anyway. The converse is also true. If you don't like reading, your kids are at least a little bit genetically predisposed to not like it either.

Kids are also hardwired to imitate their parents. If they see you taking an interest in something, they will at least try it out. They want to spend time with you, and will mold their interests to make that possible. Parents do the same thing. They will adjust their own interests in order to make connections with their children. This is why I have a scary amount of knowledge about Littlest Pet Shop for a grown man. That only works to a degree, though.

Generally, if an adult continues to pursue a career path laid out by the parents, it's for one of two reasons:

  • It's what they know best and are good at, so they continue doing it even though it doesn't make them very happy.
  • They actually happen to truly enjoy it innately. The parents made a lucky guess in "thrusting" something the child would have eventually chosen for herself anyway.

Humans are also hardwired for self-discovery. This process is best done at home under the protective and supportive environment of a parent. When parents suppress self-discovery, their kids inevitably still go through it, but as an adult, when mistakes are much more costly and there is less support available and less time to invest.

A college student drops out of medical school when it gets tough, and ends up trying to pay off student loans with a job at Starbucks while trying to figure out what he really wants. Another young adult abandons her parents religion because she feels forced into it rather than led into it, perhaps experimenting with drugs and promiscuity for no other reason than her parents' religion proscribed it. A man throws away his marriage and goes on a bender, because he's never felt encouraged to pursue his own dreams. A woman who was a talented musician moves out and never touches it again, until 30 years later she realizes she enjoyed it, despite her mother sucking the fun out of it, but regretfully has lost almost all her talent through disuse.

These are costly mistakes you don't want to put your kids through. If you help them discover their own dreams, they will be amazing in ways you never imagined.

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    Very helpful information. Thanks. Now, this father says that this answer is applied only on Western country people. Yes, I know I have married an a**. – Aquarius_Girl Apr 30 '15 at 14:11
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    I think there's a 3rd reason adults pursue a career path laid out by parents: Fear, worry, and anxiety that they'll be failing in their parent's eyes by not doing what's expected. Negative consequences such as those can be unfortunately powerful motivators. – user11394 Apr 30 '15 at 17:34
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    @CreationEdge - Yes, it must be a terrible burden. Another burden is when a parent tries to live a specific life vicariously through their child. – anongoodnurse Apr 30 '15 at 20:19
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    Unreasonable expectations come with the territory in many non-Western cultures. I remember a friend of mine telling me that when he went to Cal-Tech he always looked up before entering a building, especially a dorm, because you never knew when you might be hit by a falling body. Mostly Asian students, apparently, as they were more likely to feel that they had no way out from the impossibility of the expectations being loaded on them. – Francine DeGrood Taylor May 1 '15 at 23:30
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The father wants the child to become a doctor. He is planning to create such an environment around the child such that the child starts thinking that she must become a doctor until she actually does.

I think this is very unwise. Not only is it disrespecting her as a person, but it is also setting her up for hardship and possibly failure. Just as with reading, your daughter's interest in biology can be fostered because you love biology. And she may well major in biology and go into pharmacology or mycology (the study of fungi). But if her self worth (why else must be a doctor?) is tied to being one thing, yes, maybe she will become a doctor but there's absolutely no guarantee that she will be happy and a high probability that she will not. Medicine is a calling for most, a calculated step to success for others. But for anyone to be really happy in medicine, they have to love all kinds of things: biology, biochemistry, helping people, lifelong learning, effective communication. They need to be comfortable delaying gratification (for a long time), working very hard in school and many years afterwards, solving difficult problems, and be able to live with the responsibility of having people's lives in their hands and losing those lives as well.

Some of this holds true for other fields you would "pick" for her as well.

[A]re people born with some dedicated interests or it is possible to thrust a different interest on them such they eventually become interested in that interest?

People are born with personality traits. Hopefully they are exposed to a broad range of things and discover more in school, through friends, etc. What they love depends on what they find most interesting, and there's not even always a living to be made in that field.

Please consider building your daughter's character (including resilience, a work ethic, a moral compass, etc.), and letting her pick the field of study she desires.

Ours was a two doctor-parents home. We never encouraged any of our children to go into medicine, and indeed often tried to talk the one child who always (and only ever) wanted to be a doctor out of it. We exposed them to a broad range of subjects and involved ourselves in their education and reading. But they had free time and free choices. Their career choices were a pleasant surprise, even the "doctor's" choice.

  • Thanks to you too. Please read my comment on the other answer. – Aquarius_Girl Apr 30 '15 at 14:13
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Speaking very specifically to the issue of becoming a doctor, I think that one very common reason for children to become doctors is positive experiences with doctors during their childhood. Children who have a serious illness or some sort of chronic or structural issue that means they spend a lot of time with a particular doctor or set of doctors, and form attachments to one or some of those doctors, in my experience often seem to want to head into medicine themselves - whether because of the emotional side of things or from a desire to give back some of what they received as a child. Certainly not every doctor (or even most doctors) become one based on this, but from my anecdata, a reasonably high percentage of those who have these experiences go on to work in medicine in some way.

As such, I think that the "desire" to become a doctor is probably not purely genetic - it's probably a combination of environment, personality, work ethic, and life experience. Preparing someone from an early age to be a doctor is likely possible - not necessarily a good idea, but possible; and it may be possible to nudge them a bit such that if they have some proclivity to become a doctor already, they go that route, but if it's not something they're interested in, they don't.

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    Hmm...food for thought. And here I was thinking I was scaring kids away with my needles and stuff! +1 ;) – anongoodnurse Apr 30 '15 at 20:32
  • :) I didn't include it in the answer as I felt it wasn't needed, but... – Joe Apr 30 '15 at 20:33
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    My cousin was in college and had no idea what to do with himself, when he took my grandmother to the eye surgeon to get her cateracts operated on. He left that deciding he wanted to become an opthamologist! A bit later on compared to most of the people I knew (who had early childhood experiences), but it stuck in my head. – Joe Apr 30 '15 at 20:34
  • One person I knew had some facial deformities that this person spent years having surgeries and other work done to repair as a small child, and while I was never told specifically that this was the reason for wanting to go into medicine, it seemed obvious to me based on what I knew of how this person talked about their experiences with some very good and personable doctors as a toddler on up. – Joe Apr 30 '15 at 20:39
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    One of my classmates had his hand crushed as a child, and had to have it rebuilt over several operations. He became an orthopedic surgeon. It certainly does happen! – anongoodnurse Apr 30 '15 at 20:41
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I guess your question can be interpreted in two ways:

1. Can you force a child to love something

A lot of parents try this, but with limited success. Especially in a culture where everyone can do what they want, this is very likely to fail. If your child is surrounded by other children who don't have much of a choice, this may have a reasonable change to succeed.

2. Can you stimulate a child to love something

This is definitely possible, and depending on the way you approach it; it does not have to be something negative at all. If you make some effort to show her all the nice things that come with the subject, the child should definitely have a higher chance to get interested in it. Especially if you show that you are enjoying it yourself. Something important to realize: there are many years to come, and at times the child may lose interest in the subject for a while. If you then keep pushing, you end up 'forcing' the child and have a high chance to build up permanent resistance. Just focus on other things for a while and pick it up when the child already forgot why she was losing interest in the first place.

Practical advice: Spread the love

As a child I was stimulated to enjoy 3 separate subjects in particular, at some point I decided that I didn't like one of them and I still hold that feeling. However, afterwards I enjoyed thinking about the other two subjects even more, resulting in a 'successful education' as I am currently happy to work a lot with one of them.

So, if you think that being a doctor can be a good idea, but don't want to force your child, think of some other things that you and the father would both be happy with. Then you can start stimulating your child to enjoy all these subjects, and if somehow one of them does not work out, you still can raise your child with less worries.

  • This answer comes from someone with 1 western and 1 nonwestern parent who is quite satisfied with the way he was raised. – Dennis Apr 30 '15 at 15:01
  • Hi and welcome! I've edited your post a bit; there might be babies sleeping (i.e. the bolding is a bit loud.) ') We're parents. We're used to looking at small things. Again, welcome. – anongoodnurse Apr 30 '15 at 20:23

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