All in the family…

I’ve noticed that there seem to be trends in occupations in families.  My own family has a preponderance of medical professionals and teachers.  I guess it’s kind of like a family business…my cousin is a pharmacist and her son is in college to become a pharmacist while her daughter is in school to be a nurse.  If you grow up seeing a profession all of the time, does that make you more likely or less likely to follow suit?  I guess it depends on the occupation and the person.  My mom was a nurse and a nurse educator while my dad was in the Navy and neither of those professions held any appeal for me.  Of course, I’ve yet to actually choose a profession, so I probably shouldn’t count them out completely.  My mom did want to be a writer, but wouldn’t because she was afraid her book would end up on the discount table and that would just kill her.  I have the same ambition, but without that particular fear.

A couple years ago I was really into genealogy.  I loved reading the census because they listed the occupation of the members of household.  It was interesting to me to see how, unlike today, an entire street or neighborhood might have only one occupation listed.  My mom’s family is from western Pennsylvania, so when looking at the census that lists my great great grandparents, the whole street was filled with miners.  Sometimes there would be railroad people occupying the neighborhood that housed my family.

The point, I suppose, is that environment and family play a large part in shaping our ideas about jobs and careers.  Is the black sheep the one who bucks tradition and becomes something out of the ordinary?  Or should they be lauded for their imagination and courage to go outside of the norm?  In a family of accountants and math majors (my husband’s family) we have seen in the next generation one computer animator, one soldier, one accountant, one video game designer and one circus clown.  Is it because the world is a much more open place that these kids feel free to pursue more unique career dreams?  Or, is it rather because the face of the job market has changed so much that these “unique” careers are becoming the new norm?  The miner or railroad man might be a much more unique line of work in the next 20 years as the job world keeps up with the technological world.


Interior decorator – not when your mom laughs at you.

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4 Responses to All in the family…

  1. Mindy B. says:

    I didn’t know you had ties to Western Pennsylvania…where exactly?

  2. Heidi says:

    Great topic and insight. You asked for our career genealogy …on the paternal side, all engineering and on the maternal side, human and social services. My husband is an engineer, his father was an engineer, his grandfather was an engineer, my husband’s brother is an engineer, and you guessed it, our two sons are majoring in engineering. Genetics, parental pressure, or rather parental influence, personal tendencies, personality traits, preferences, interests, aptitudes, mentors, reinforcers, life experience or identifying most closely with the same sex parent? … In our family it added up to a predominance of math and engineering professions on the male side of the family tree.. I often hear myself saying, “Thank goodness, my kids got their math gene from their father.” On my side of the family tree, my mother was an X-ray technician, my dad was a YMCA director skilled in sales, I am a counselor (experienced in mental health and career counseling), my sister is a Special Ed teacher, and my brother was a YMCA director skilled in repair and business. My daughter graduated in Neuroscience, yes, the math and science gene was not just meant for the boys, and is intending to further her education to become a clinical Neuro-psychologist. I do see a blending of family influences, along with personal interests, aptitudes, and parental sheep dogging, you know, those little nips at the heals to sheperd one in various vocational directions that helped to shape each of our professional lives.

    • gbbledsoe says:

      I thought of you guys when I was writing this. I thought about the cousins who are special ed teachers on the Renwick side side too. It’s funny just how social service oriented we are. Thanks for the input!

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