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'What kind of work is that?': Post-SPM clashes arise between parents and children

Some SPM graduates say they do not know how to convince their parents of what they want to do in life.

Nur Hasliza Mohd Salleh
2 minute read
Students wait to receive their SPM results at SMK Yu Hua in Kajang, June 8.
Students wait to receive their SPM results at SMK Yu Hua in Kajang, June 8.

Aliya Nadiah Dzulfitri was fighting to hold back her tears of joy as she searched for her mother outside the school hall on June 8, clutching her SPM result slip showing her score of 6 As from the total of eight subjects taken. 

The entire family celebrated over lunch at a restaurant, commemorating what they saw as the start of a new chapter in Aliya's life. 

But by evening, some of her joy had begun to fade as a misunderstanding arose with her mother over her plan to study psychology at a public university.

"My mother doesn't understand what I say about the field of psychology," Aliya told MalaysiaNow. 

"Whether it's medical psychology, clinical, or modern. She still tells our relatives that I want to become a counsellor. But that's not what I want to do." 

Che Izzudin Che Mad, a fellow SPM graduate from Kuantan, encountered a similar clash of views with his family when he told them he wanted to become a designer. 

Che Izzudin dreams of working behind the scenes, especially in online designs for products and brands. 

"But they think that I want to design clothes or do interior designing, even though they know that I have no aptitude for either job," he said. 

"I'm good at computer programming and using designer software, like Canva," he added, referring to the graphic design platform used to create graphics and presentations. 

Generation gap

A project manager at an NGO who asked to be known as Hisham said he, too, had gone through the same situation after completing his studies. 

Hisham graduated with a degree in law from a local university. However, he never had any interest in working a normal office job. 

"I didn't even want to become a lawyer," he said. 

Instead, he joined an NGO that dealt with gender issues and domestic violence and began his career as a research officer.

"When I started working with the NGO, I kept it a secret from my family," he said. 

"They wouldn't have understood what the job entailed, and I didn't know how to make them understand about the work that I was doing."

Until today, his mother is still in the dark about the context of his career – for her, it is enough to know that he is gainfully employed. 

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, he said there was a generational gap made bigger by the rapid development of technology and artificial intelligence. 

He said these developments had led to a rapid and widespread difference in the job market. 

"These days, their children might not refer to them anymore when choosing a field of study or work," he said. 

"What would happen if their children kept pushing them aside in the belief that there is no need to ask, they will not understand?"

For him, the situation underscores the importance of keeping abreast of what is happening in the world. 

"Parents will always need to know what is going on in their children's lives, even though those children may be grown up and building a life of their own," he said. 

"That is also one of the elements of humanity and family."