Thursday, June 1, 2023


Were your parents happy about your career choice?

By Chuck Woodbury

My father returned from World War II, got married, and with my mother raised three kids in a stucco home in the suburbs of Los Angeles. I was the oldest.

Until I was a junior in high school, he was a high-powered executive in Los Angeles. He had several ulcers, which was a badge of honor then—it meant you were a hard-driven and most likely successful businessman. The only advice I ever received from him about my own future career was to grow up and be an executive like him where I would make a lot of money and live happily ever after.

Alas, in college I fell in love with journalism and then publishing, and I was off and running in my own self-defined career. Actually, I did not head off running—it was more like a slow crawl. It took me decades to ever consistently earn a decent living.

My father never understood what I was doing as I set out on my career path. “Just get a job,” he would say in so many words when I even hinted I was not prospering. My mother was supportive, but she, too, did not understand this strange career I had chosen.

My parents lived long enough to see me get things together. The first time my father even acknowledged my success is when he saw TV anchor Peter Jennings introduce a segment on me and my “on the road newspaper” on the ABC Evening News. He bragged to his friends about his successful son. I overheard him a few times. He never actually said anything to me. Even then he did not truly understand how I earned my living, but he stopped advising me about what I SHOULD be doing.

What about you? Did your parents support your choice of a career? Did they enthusiastically support you, or just go along with you? Or were they like my father, who was not happy about my direction?

Please leave a comment if you have a story to tell.

Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodbury
I'm the founder and publisher of I've been a writer and publisher for most of my adult life, and spent a total of at least a half-dozen years of that time traveling the USA and Canada in a motorhome.


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Bob Weinfurt
1 month ago

They wanted me to go into the electronics field or join the postal service like my father did fresh out of high school. I wanted to get into the automobile sales and repair field. What really upset them is when I moved to a small town to start a business. Only knowing a few people, it was a struggle at first but after a while I had developed a good reputation and even became a used car dealer. After 35 years I retired. Now I live debt and stress free.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bob Weinfurt
1 month ago

My father took over my grandfather’s business that he had taken over for my great grandfather. It was assumed I would be the 4th generation of men to carry the banner. With the family name in the store’s front window on main street for over 100 years in our hometown I chose a different path. Oops. It would have been an easier path to be sure, but likely unfullfilling. All good things must end. Left home with my duffle and a map. Made my own path. Built my life around my values, with my own sweat. In the end, he was proud to take the sign down off the store front after 115 years. A lot of years passed when we did not speak but in the end, he was proud of my success which surpassed the 115 year old family business. We enjoyed his last 8 years of life together with lots of laughs as father and son, much of that time spent on my yacht pretending to fish. Yes, he was proud.

1 month ago

My parents, especially my mother, were focused on my sisters and I getting training for a job where we could, if necessary, support our families. Our grandfather was killed just before our mother was born so she grew up loved but poor. I was a teacher, one sister was an accountant and my youngest, a nurse. The nurse’s husband kept trying to get her to quit once they had kids. She went down to 2 days a week but my parents raised holy hell about the idea of quitting nursing!!! My mother said if she gave it up, she would never get her RN certificate back. It saved my sister from poverty when her husband left while the kids were in their teens. She was easily able to transition back into full time.

Steven N
1 month ago

I joined the US Navy in 1982 at the tender age of 17 so mom and dad had to sign for me. Since they signed I assume they approved. Mom was a bit apprehensive and I believe Dad was happy to see me serve but later he told me he only meant for me to do one tour not over 20 years!

Tom Gutzke
1 month ago

My Mother’s father and uncle were both firefighters and both died in the line of duty. She was very proud to learn that I joined a suburban fire department.

Jerry Alsum
1 month ago

My father and grandfather were home builders and it was assumed that I would become one as well as my younger brother. I soon found that working for my father was not what I wanted to do so I applied to become a firefighter. Because of my construction background, I was hired the first time I took the test. Telling dad that I didn’t want to work with him was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. He didn’t talk to me for 3 months but with my 10 days/ month work schedule I was able to help build a family cabin in the Colorado mountains. He started to see that my new career was a good thing and my brother stayed working for him so now he only had one son to worry about. I did 31 years as a fire medic as well as 5 years as a fire investigator.

Mitzi Agnew Giles and Ed Giles
1 month ago

When I had to redo life choices at age 28 and told my father I was going to go to nursing school he told me “all nurses are whores”. I guess he wasn’t too pleased that I didn’t believe him. My stepmother made him pay back the educational loans I took out for nursing school. (Since he had always said he would put me through college) Thank you Joan!!

I’m proud of all my grandchildren and both children. They have felt that we have encouraged them to do what they want to do and since I spent my last 24 professional years working at Hospice, I have encouraged them to not put off living till they retire but to enjoy life now.

1 month ago

Raised in a family of ten the stock answer to anything we wanted to do was “You don’t want to do that”. It had to be something for everyone or no one. We all made it through sans two siblings. I started in a computer manufacturer that after 10 years went broke. I moved to Mexico and studied another career, learned the language and have never looked back. That was 38 years ago. I am now happily retired with two pensions, one Mexican and one American, and we have had the opportunity to RV Mexico, the U.S. and Canada over the last 20 years. My job took me throughout all of the Americas. The best advice I received was to get an education. A degree has never hurt anyone no matter what they choose to do in life. It makes a person well-rounded.

1 month ago

What parents?

Jimmie W. Crawford
1 month ago

My father passed before I had a career. My mother never discussed matters of any nature. She was an excellent mother as far as feeding us and providing our clothes and getting us educated through high school but she had no knowledge of college and could not advise us on life choices beyond get a job and move on.

Denny wagaman
1 month ago

Of all the things that you could ask …life has changed for all of us… what our parents thought originally doesn’t matter…. What matters is….The question ARE YOU happy with your choice of careers and if so or if not whY?

Bill Byerly
1 month ago

Its was never openly expressed to me, but i believe my dad and step mom are pretty happy with the way things turned out. I have been working for over 42 years, and was self employed for over 35 years in the construction business. Now retired and enjoying life.!

Cathi S
1 month ago

My parents were happy that I was a productive member of society and happy. I had several different jobs throughout my working years and they never indicated any disappointment in my choices.

1 month ago

I majored in Recreation Administration, under the college of Education. My dad wanted me to get a teaching certificate not that recreation was taught in public schools and it was NOT PE. But when I joined the Air Force and became a Morale Welfare and Recreation Officer, one of the first to actually have a degree in it (before that it was pilots and missileers who changed careers) he was quite proud.

1 month ago

I really don’t know. They paid for mechanical engineering trade school until I dropped out and then paid for college before I flunked out, then sweated out me and the Vietnam war, They never said a word and it seems they were proud of me and me of them. I may have “redeemed” myself because they fell in love with my wife as she became the daughter they never had.

1 month ago

Father was unhappy when I dropped out of college and ran away to the Army. (Less than successful college at this point.) Four years later, off to college on the overly generous G.I. Bill of $100 a month. Very Proud when I graduated from college. Had several unhappy jobs, and ran away and rejoined the Army. Dad was proud when I attained the rank of Warrant Officer.

1 month ago

When I had a choice between 2 jobs, my dad steered me to working for the state because of all of the benefits. I didn’t get paid a lot but I did have good benefits and good benefits in retirement as well.
The other job I could have taken paid twice the salary with so-so benefits. I would still be working today at 64 if I hadn’t taken the state job.

1 month ago

No , until my Dad found out how much money I was making as a heavy construction worker.

Leslie P
1 month ago

I became a firefighter/EMT, which was tough in the early 80’s as a female. I worked hard and gained respect with my crew because I held my own. I became a Hazardous Materials Technician, confined-space rope rescue technician, Captain, Division Chief. I retired at the rank of Assistant Chief. My mother was very proud of me. My father wanted to know when I was going to get a real job.

Diane McGovern
1 month ago
Reply to  Leslie P

Very impressive, Leslie! Thank you for your service as a firefighter. Have a great day. 😀 –Diane at

1 month ago

My parents died before I was old enough to think about a career.

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