Do you ever wonder how many of us are in charge of the decisions concerning our future?

If you never thought about it, the family you are born into is the first step toward your future.

In a perfect world, a child should have a choice.

That is not to say those born into poverty cannot extricate themselves. However, it is easier if there is someone in your life who cares enough to encourage you. Some manage to achieve their goals by sheer determination.

So, step one is the accident of birth. Step two, do your parents have a vision of your path in life? If so, there will be battles.

Let’s say your family is wealthy, and the parents expect you to carry on after they are gone. Perhaps they want you to run the family mortuary business. What if dealing with dead bodies terrifies you? What if the embalming fluid makes you retch? What if you want to be an artist or a writer?

In the eyes of your parents, your wishes are not down to earth enough. Of course, you cannot get more down to earth than the business of burying people. For us flighty folk, the business of death does not seem all smiles and giggles.

Evelyn Waugh wrote, “The Loved One,” which is about people working in the burial business. Mr. Joyboy is in love with Aimee but is too timid to tell her. She is in charge of making the dead people look good with makeup. So, he always puts a smile on the cadaver before sending it on to Aimee.

Of course, if you are against working in the family mortuary business, the book may depress rather than inspire you.

Parents are not the only ones who try to influence your career choices. If you have been living under a rock all your life, you may not realize teachers are hell-bent on shaping young minds into the desired collective think.

This writer attended Catholic schools for a large portion of her life, beginning with elementary school. Nuns taught all the classes. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that almost daily, you heard the question, “How many of you plan to join the convent?” or “How many want to be priests?” The latter question popped up when a priest visited the classroom.

Most people want the approval of those around them. Children are no exception. Consequently, eager little hands flew into the air whenever Sister Mary SOB ask the question. It never occurred to the youngsters what becoming a nun or a priest entailed.

Sometimes, boys entered the seminary right out of grade school or high school. At that age, they had no concept of what they would have to give up to become priests. Consequently, usually years later, they felt the full impact of their sacrifice when they met a woman, fell in love, and left the priesthood. After all, hormones make a lot more noise than endless prayers.

Couples often feel pressured to start making babies even before the signatures dry on the marriage license. “I want to be a young enough grandmother to have the energy to play with my grandkids.”

The newlyweds’ replies may not make grandma-in-waiting happy. “We don’t like kids. Why would we make more of them?” Or, “We want to get established in our careers first.” Neither of those answers will endear them to the wannabe grandmother. If she wants little rugrats around, perhaps she should have some more of her own.

Sometimes, controlling parents go too far. When this writer’s mother learned her daughter would marry a man who would move her to Dallas, “If you live in the city that killed Kennedy, I’ll never come to visit,” the mother replied. Since she raised a dutiful daughter, mother expected her child to fall in line.

What a choice. Stay with mommy or marry Hubby. The decision was easy. Guess who was the first to visit the couple in Dallas?





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