This is the 2007 version. Click here for the 2017 chapter 10 table of contents.

Entering the Same Profession as a Parent

The research summarized on the previous page found that, in suburban and urban areas, it was common to find a child preparing to enter the profession of a parent. Laband and Lentz (1985) argued there are good social, economic, even biological, reasons to follow in the footsteps of a parent:

What are some reasons teenagers often follow in the footsteps of a parent?

—Children naturally seek to please parents and gain their approval; there is likely to be strong social reinforcement for children who imitate parents.

—Because the child shares half the parent's genes, there is likely to be an overlap in special skills such as math, music, or athletic ability.

—Parents act as coaches and teachers, and naturally they are best at teaching the skills they enjoy and love.

—Children get special access to their parents' working environments; small children may spend considerable time at a parent's place of business: helping on a farm, visiting an office, visiting the locker room of an athletic team. Children of professionals get an inside look at the profession which makes it seem natural to them.

Consider singer Mariah Carey. Her mother was a jazz singer. Musicians were always visiting, and as a child, Mariah used to sing along with them. She said, "I don't think I was aware of the fact that what I was doing was any different from what every other kid was doing. I assumed that everybody went home and had musicians jamming in their house." She said she had "always known" she would be a professional singer. (Pitts, 1990)

Write to Dr. Dewey at

Don't see what you need? Psych Web has over 1,000 pages, so it may be elsewhere on the site. Do a site-specific Google search using the box below.

Custom Search

Copyright © 2007-2011 Russ Dewey