Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Parents Want Child to Attend Medical School

DEAR HARRIETTE: Both of my parent are in the medical profession. All they ever wanted was for my siblings and me to go to medical school and pursue the same careers they had. I have two older brothers, both of whom are in medical school. Now that I have graduated from college, I am looking for a job. My parents are urging me to go to medical school and think that I should take courses so I can apply. I do not even have the slightest interest in becoming a doctor. I was a public relations major with a minor in marketing, and I want to pursue a career in PR.

Medical school is the last thing that I want to do, and my parents don’t understand. I keep telling them that I don’t want to go to medical school, but they aren’t listening. They say I should look at my brothers and be more like them, but I don’t want to be. I want to do my own thing. Why don’t they understand? -- Not Going to Medical School, Los Angeles

DEAR NOT GOING TO MEDICAL SCHOOL: It can be very difficult to forge your own path when your parents do not support your ideas. My father was a judge, and what he wanted most for me was to pursue the law. When I told him I wanted to be a writer, he responded, “The best type of writing is the law.” I was so mad at the time because I thought he was either not hearing me or not listening. What I now know is that your parents want you to be secure, safe and happy. Security for them often resembles whatever they did in life, especially if they were successful.

I did not pursue law, just as you are not going to pursue medicine. Thank your parents for their concern about your future, apologize for not wanting to follow the path they chose for themselves and ask for their blessing for you to discover your own path. Even if they do not support you right now, do your research and discover opportunities that will lead you to your heart’s desire. As you build your career, you can keep your parents informed so that they can see your life unfold.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My parents got divorced about five years ago. Each of them is now living in a new house. When they first got divorced, they split up everything they owned. I was 19 at the time, so I didn’t get anything. Now that I am 24 and about to move into my own place, I am starting to wonder if it’s appropriate to ask for my childhood bed back. I know my parents bought it, but is it technically mine? I would love to not have to spend a fortune buying a new bed. What’s your take on childhood furniture? Who has the right to it? -- Give Me My Bed Back, Denver

DEAR GIVE ME MY BED BACK: Rather than potentially squabbling over rights, why not ask your parents for their help? Remind them that you are about to move into your first apartment of your own, and you would appreciate their support. Ask if you can borrow your old bed and any other household items that they would be willing to let you use. Don’t make it seem like they owe you. Just ask for their generosity at this time of transition. In this way, you will probably get more!

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)