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Do You Want Your Child to Follow in Your Footsteps?

We’ve heard these idioms before:

  • “…a chip off the old block”
  • “..follow in your Mom’s/Dad’s footsteps”
  • “…like father, like son/Like mother like daughter”

I was faced with the truth of these terms last week when one of my 6-and-a-half year old sons told his little cousin: “You are so small … as small as a bacterium.” My sister-in-law laughingly commented “He is really your son.” She is referring to the fact that I am a biologist by training with a specialization in microscopic things. The metaphor was a bit extreme and he wasn’t being offensive. He just used a word he often heard from his mom.

But this incident got me wondering whether my son F will indeed end up following in my footsteps. After all, he was the one who, last Christmas, wished for nothing but a Triops growing kit (complete with the catalog number!) while his identical twin couldn’t decide between a Carrera and Lego race track.

Celebrities Seems To Encourage Show-business For Their Kids

This also got me wondering how often does a child follow in his or her parents’ profession? I mean, this seems to be a very common thing among celebrities (actors, musicians) and politicians. No one was surprised when Kate Hudson or Angelina Jolie went into acting or when Julian Lennon or Jakob Dylan decided to become recording artists, right?

Some celebrity parents openly encourages (or is it ” groom”?) their children to carry on the family tradition in show business. Those who are happy to have their kids follow in their footsteps (source Momlogic):

  • Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, who are training their daughter Suri rather early; her older half brother Connor has already started
  • Will Smith, whose son Jaden and daughter Willow already appeared in several films
  • John Travolta , with daughter Ella

Doctors and lawyers have children who take over their practice. Family businesses are handed down generation after generation. In case of the celebrity offspring, the fame, fortune and friends of their parents help a lot in getting a foothold.

Even among professional athletes, there are many cases of offspring following their parents’ career path. Olympians begat Olympians. Boxers begat boxers.

I recently learned, for example, that Laila Ali, ex-boxer champion and mom, is Muhammad Ali’s daughter. To my amazement, two other boxers from my childhood days – George Foreman and Joe Frazier – have daughters who also went into professional boxing – Freeda Foreman and Jackie Frazier Lyde!

Parents Influence Their Children’s Career

We, parents have a strong influence on what our children become in the future, be it the genes we passed on at conception or the environment we raise them in. There are some parents, however, who would rather not have their children follow the same path. The famous Yorkshire vet/novelist James Herriot admitted to discouraging his daughter Rosie from becoming a vet. She went to become a doctor instead. Herriot believed that being an animal doctor is too rough a job for his daughter. , James Jr. became a country vet like his dad.

Take the case of Icon Sport middleweight champion Frank Trigg. “My son, we had this conversation, he said he wanted to be a fighter; I told him to go play tennis. Don’t follow in your father’s footsteps. Go do something else. Be better than your father, but do it in your own right. Follow your own path.” Many parents like him who are into fighting sports would rather that their children go for less tough professions.

Momlogic compiled the following list of celebrities who are not encouraging their kids to follow their footsteps:

  • Catherine McCord
  • Brooke Shields
  • Alison Sweeney
  • Alyson Hannigan
  • Melissa Joan Hart

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find any reliable statistics on how many children actually follow the career path of parents. In the opinion and poll site Toluna, the question “Do children follow in their parents footsteps'” got the following responses: YES – 40%; NO – 28%; NOT SURE – 32%.

But What About Me Personally?

I didn’t follow my parents’ footsteps but my younger sister’s specialization in Agricultural Science would have made my father, who was a farmer and an avid horticulturist, proud. He had 3 older sons who were never interested in anything green at all. How do I feel about my son going into Biology and follow my footsteps? Actually, I don’t really know. Like most moms, I wish that my children would be successful in whatever they would want to do someday. But most of all, I would want them to be happy.

What About You?

Would you want your child to follow in your footsteps?


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