Parents generally want the best for their children. However, their good intentions can sometimes manifest as a need to manage every aspect of their children’s lives. I think this is unproductive and unhealthy.
First of all, this sets children up for a great deal of confusion and unhappiness later in life, when they discover that they don’t actually want to follow the paths their parents set out for them, For example, I have several friends who are pursuing respectable careers that were predetermined by their parents, but almost all of these friends are unhappy and wish that they had chased their true passions instead. One is pre-med and wants to be a painter. Another is going into law but regrets not pursuing music. True, these types of passions may not be the most gainful or practical, but they can be highly rewarding and bring more contentment than well-paying careers that are of no personal interest. By letting children make their own choices, parents give children the chance to discover genuine happiness.
Moreover, by allowing children to determine their own futures, you are teaching them a valuable life skill: independent decision-making. This can be a big professional asset, as it is crucial if you hope to be any sort of a leader. Children who have their lives directed by adults will come to rely on authority figures for guidance. Such children would feel helpless and lost when required to act autonomously, since they are so accustomed to others making big decisions for them. They would make excellent subordinates, but leadership positions would be out of their reach; people only follow those with the confidence to pursue their own ideals. By letting children make their own choices, parents train children to become good leaders.
Finally, parents can improve their relationship with their children when they allow children to dictate the terms of their lives. Giving children a say in the matter shows that you respect and acknowledge them. When you make all of a child’s decisions for them, what you’re saying is: I don’t trust you to think for yourself. Children may not consciously realize this, of course, but they will feel it, and this will shape the parent-child relationship. Intimacy is incredibly difficult to achieve under this framework. But by letting children make their own choices, parents can open the door to a closer and warmer relationship with their children.
A parent’s urge to control their kids’ life is understandable, but misguided. Though parents are just trying to ensure the best future for their children, it ends up doing more harm than good. In the long run, it is still best to let kids carve their own paths.