Dear Thelma,

I am a 23-year-old male living in a rural area in Malacca. I will be graduating with a degree soon.

I wish to pursue a career in digital marketing. After doing some research, I found out that opportunities exist in the Klang Valley for the kind of jobs I want.

However, it is my parents’ wish that I live with them, especially my mum whose health is deteriorating. Both of them can’t move to the city to live with me, as my dad refuses to leave the family home which he bought with his hard-earned money.

Besides, my younger sister has scoliosis and she cannot move around too much without assistance.

Should I put my career on hold and get a job near home so that I can look after my family?

What should I do? – Undecided

Dear Undecided,

You are a good son and a good brother. Your priorities are, first and foremost, your family. Well done! Your parents have done well in raising a son like you.

The decision you are making is a big one. And it is understandable that you are experiencing a lot of stress in deciding what to do.

The best way to reach a solution is to ask yourself: what is the most important thing at this time? To stay with your family, or to provide for them financially?

Your family home belongs to all of you and you do not have to worry about things like rent. So staying at home will allow you to save some money. The cost of food and other essentials will not change as there is just the four of you to provide for.

Moving to the city would mean additional costs. You may have to rent a place. Your parents don’t want to move, and that means there will be two households to support in terms of providing basic essentials. Moving to the city means that you may have to rely on public transport or get a new vehicle, both of which will incur costs.

The best way for you to come to a decision is to list down all these factors and see which will be a more prudent option for you. While moving to the city may bring you closer to your dream job, it has its downside. Staying closer to home may limit your options, but it will keep your family close and enable you to save money while still looking after your family.

There are also long-term consequences to think about. Staying back and doing other work may help build your skill sets. Building your skill sets now actually helps in making you a better candidate for jobs in the city later.

It is very competitive in the city and many people would be vying for the jobs that you are eyeing. What would separate you from them? Sufficient experience would definitely benefit you, and that is something you don’t have at the moment.

It may help if you draw up time-bound plans. What is your plan for the next five years? And then the following five years? What kind of needs would you have? What would your family need? Obviously, over time your mother and sister may need more specialised care. They may even need someone to stay at home to look after them. This means additional costs.

Of course, eventually you will also need to get married and start your own family. That will bring about new costs and concerns. It may not be realistic to expect your future wife to stay home and look after your family. As a matter of fact, a double income may be necessary at that stage of your life.

You have a lot to think about. Sit down with your family and discuss these things with them. Share with them your concerns and let them know what your hopes and dreams are. As much as they want what is best for them, they will also want what is best for you. And they can only know what is best for you if you share these things with them.

The prospect of change may be scary for them. It may even be scary for you. Make these decisions wisely. Know that these decisions are not cast in stone. Situations change. People change. You can always change your mind and review your decisions. Do not be driven to make decisions hastily. Keep anxiety in check. Allowing anxiety to take the reins may cause you to make the wrong decisions.

As long as you know that you are making the best decision for everyone concerned, you will be on the right track. Right now your focus should be the decision-making process. Take as much time as you need to come to a decision. That is the only assurance you have that you will make the right decision. – Thelma

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