In early August, The Harvard Business Review published an article about an unexpected source of career conflict: parents! Stew Friedman, the article’s author, who is a Wharton professor and founding director of the Wharton Leadership Program wrote:
“…business professionals at various stages in life, from college students to mid-career executives, talk more about their mothers and fathers than their spouses and children as sources of career conflict. Here is a small sampling of what I’ve heard:
* ‘My parents have always made me feel that my accomplishments fall short of expectations; I’m a disappointment to them and this undermines my confidence in choosing a career direction of my own.’
* ‘My parents expect me to marry a particular (kind of) person, even if committing to that potential spouse would cut against my career goals.’
* ‘My parents insist I live in a particular geographic location, but this will seriously inhibit my career options and future growth.’
* ‘I feel obliged to care for my parents in their old age, but I cannot figure out how to coordinate the allocation of these responsibilities with my siblings; the resulting stress is a major distraction from my efforts to focus on work.'”
While it isn’t a surprise to most people the needs and expectations of parents don’t always sync with those of their children, Friedman had some suggestions for reducing disharmony: stakeholder dialogues. In other words, initiate conversations with the people who are most important to you and discuss mutual expectations. In the end, you may gain insight to and clarity around others’ thoughts and expectations as well as the ways in which they influence your decision-making.