As a parent you always seem to think you know what is best for your child. Most of the time that's true, but sometimes it can be distorted by your own childhood experiences, the expectations that were put on you, your successes and failures, strengths and weaknesses. It can overflow onto our own children and what we think is best for them.
So many people have stories of going into a particular profession because it was expected of them - family traditions, the family business, the career their parent wanted and couldn't have, so pushed them towards instead. In my case, my parents were sure that a university education was wasted on a girl because "she would get married and have babies and never use it". What were they thinking? It certainly limited my choices as far as tertiary education went - I found a course that paid a small training allowance and that was acceptable because I could pay board and finance myself. Fortunately it was a good fit and made a good jumping off point for my future work life. I'd have chosen something completely different if it was up to me, but that's a whole different story.
I dated a boy a long (long, long) time ago who always knew he would be an engineer because his father had wanted to be one and never quite made it. This became the sole focus of his parents - not his sisters and their career choices, no....it was only the assurance that their son would be an engineer and fulfill his father's hopes and dreams. Fortunately he didn't seem to mind being directed so strongly but I wondered if he'd have found a completely different vocation if he'd gone with his own direction instead of his parents'.
We need to have instilled qualities into our children that give them an understanding of themselves as individuals in their own right. They need to be able to recognize their own strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. They need to allowed to make mistakes and take wrong paths in their journey. You can't control all their choices and push them into a mold that suits you but may not suit them.
Some young people know exactly what they want to do with their lives (our son knew what he wanted to be from quite an early age and pursued it). Others take longer, some start a university course and change direction part way through. Some start working and then decide to go back to study (some may even wait until midlife to do just that!) Our daughter worked in an office for a couple of years before deciding what she wanted to do with her life. She went to university, graduated and now doesn't want to have kids because she loves her job so much (I wasn't planning on that happening!)
EVERYONE'S JOURNEY IS THEIR OWN
There are so many paths open to our children - some catch the travel bug and only work long enough to earn enough money to pay for their next trip. Others work while they're tripping around the world and send an occasional text to let their parents know they're okay. I know young women who love being stay at home mothers raising their children and that's a wonderful choice to make. Today so many feel the need to get back to work as soon as possible and that's fine too. Everyone's path is different and we have to let our kids choose their own journey. We may feel left behind sometimes, but that's part of parenting - encouraging your children to be all they can be (and hopefully they'll remember to phone home or visit occasionally so we know we're still in their lives!)