When I started university, determined to do a BA in English and History, I think my parents were a little frightened for me. It's not like this was a great surprise - after all, I had rejected the sciences early on, and been forced kicking and screaming into taking Calculus in my last year at school. My mother sat me down and made me list the sensible careers a BA could bring me. I rolled my eyes but played along, listing the obvious choices - Teacher, Journalist, etc. - none of which I wanted to be but which I knew would pass the Parent Test. That was enough for my mother. She was suspicious, but I think she was relieved that at least I wasn't waltzing off to teach English in China or whatever it was I had decided would be a great idea if I didn't go to uni.
Six years later, I am soon to finish my MA in History. I still don't have a clue what I want to be, but I know that I made the right decision when I was 18. It would be a heck of a lot more comfortable to come out of uni knowing exactly what career my degree would bring me - life in a law firm, an engineering company, a business - but it would be a heck of a lot more boring for someone like me and, more importantly, it would be a perversion of who I am and the talents I have. I completely understand that for many people a career is just something that supports their family, etc. I don't want to make that seem negative. And I don't think it's all about personal fulfilment. However, I do think that if you've been given a talent/skill/gift, and can develop it, you should. (Obviously, to a point.) It will make you better at the "sensible" jobs, it will show you that you can actually do anything that you really want to do. (Obviously, within reason.)
My dad is wonderful, and very supportive, even though I'm sure he disapproves of the lack of clear direction for me right now. He's always interested in what I'm doing, and he recognises the need for the study of history, and he's very proud of me whenever I succeed in some way, etc. etc. He's been very good about my choices in study, even if he's always been a fan of the Sensible, Professional Career Path. I'm pretty sure, though, that he wishes it was someone else's daughter doing it. Not in a bad way. But doesn't every parent want security and safety for their children?
Parents can give great advice. But it will usually be conservative. They don't actually "just want us to be happy", they want us to be happy as a doctor, lawyer, engineer or teacher. And I have to say that I am actually quite glad I didn't listen to my parents when I was 18, even though the future ahead of me is so open right now. It's a little scary. But I can't wait to see what is coming.