I Want My Son To Be A Doctor

Written by Dr Mustafa Rostom
Sociologist/Freelance Journalist/Author.
US country song, “Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys, Don’t let ‘em pick guitars and drive them old trucks, Make ‘em be doctors and lawyers and such” – certainly reflects on the importance of education and families in the Lebanese community.  Not only, attaining an educational degree is viewed as a prestige to family status among Lebanese people, but there is a specific view pertaining to parental aspirations on their child graduating – with first preference – as doctors or lawyers.  These highly skilled professions have been a shared instilled ideology among Lebanese communities throughout decades.
Personally, being brought up from a Lebanese background in Australia – this factor was one of the burdens that engulfed my educational pathway, and helped to bloviate some of my own personal aspirations.  Having parents who shared and carried in life strict conservative cultural and educational ideals from the 1930s and 1940s – definitely impinged upon the thought of both myself and siblings to become health practitioners.
My personal views and aspirations of an artistic career – pertaining to singing, acting and creative writing had certainly sparked a “shameful” flare to the family’s educational protocol.  My parents shared strong views against an artistic career, and saw it as a bad cultural taboo to even mention my interests in an artistic career.  Especially for Lebanese families, like my parents, who saw themselves as temporary Australian residents – they had hopes of returning to Lebanon with a son that is a doctor, and a daughter who is a lawyer.  It would have brought upon the family some shame to return to their former motherland – and dare we say – their child is a painter, singer or someone who pushed trolleys at Coles supermarket.
One thing that we can see has changed in relation to education and the Lebanese community – is that many parents share high aspirations for both gender siblings to attain a tertiary degree.  However, the push to have their children become health or legal practitioners is still highly evident and lingers on until today.  However, it can be argued that this is more so among older generations than the present  generation.
Today, it can be observed that elderly grandparents and very mature aged parents maintain to encourage Lebanese pupils to become doctors.  However, younger parents seem to be somewhat more relaxed in their attitude to their children’s educational aspirations – allowing children to solely decide upon their own educational and vocational goals.
From my personal experience, I was fortunate to find knowledge and educational discourse a stimulating acquirement for myself – and pleased my parents by attaining postgraduate degrees of a high calibre.  At present, I use my degrees as a special licence to allow my parents to have a more relaxed attitude about commencing my own artistic career in life.
This cultural ideology among Lebanese families and their aspirations for children to become educated  doctors and lawyers proposes some interesting future methodological research pertaining to this “predominant “ thought and intergenerational issues, with perhaps a comparative study of people in Lebanon.  Certainly, my personal overview on this issue does not represent the views of all individuals in the broader Lebanese community, but provides somewhat brief insight from a personal and observational view of an educated Australian Lebanese individual.
Parents need to better understand the educational aspirations of their children, by adopting more of an encouraging and guidance role – rather than coercing them into a particular mainstream education.  It is important to note that there are multiple external factors that Lebanese pupils encounter at certain milestones of their educational life – factors relating to individual subject interests, social achievements in various areas, and even cross-cultural issues that may play a crucial role in a pupil’s educational development – that is certainly at a vast different level to familial views and acquisitions.


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