Role of Parents in Helping their Child Choose the Right Career
Happiness, successful life and a secured future is every parent’s dream for their child. Parents are the first teachers for their children and therefore have an important role to play in their lives. As parents we have our own set of adopted beliefs about a successful life or an ‘ideal job’ and our feedback to our children is based on these beliefs and experiences. We don’t want them to make the same mistakes we did, we do our best to prevent them from it but at times end imposing our thoughts on them knowingly or unknowingly.
Children are under pressure academically and socially. To add to this, social media and marketing messages further make it difficult for them to distinguish fiction from reality. Parents too, on the other hand, are under great pressure to prove their own abilities and achieve their own dreams through their children. Conversations like “you should take that job”, “you should study this in college for a bright future”, “everyone in our family is either a doctor or an engineer and you want to work for an NGO??” etc. are all common these days.
While this may seem the right thing to do to steer our children in the right direction, we end up becoming victims of social programming and cultural trends that influence our beliefs on what is best for our child. This causes deep turbulence in the minds of our child. As a result, we might end up pushing our child towards a vocation that deep down they may not be interested in. Every child is an individual unique in their own way with their own set of skills and aptitude. They need their own time and space to discover what they truly want to pursue. Engineering or MBA need not be the obvious choice. Apprenticeship, Internship or relevant work experience can be just as rewarding and fulfilling in choosing a suitable vocation.
The trick here is to educate the children about self-discovery, help them identify their own strengths and weaknesses. It is alright to be unsure about what they want to do but the important thing is to be proactive in finding their way. Here are some tips so you can help your child navigate the battles of life:-
Stop Treating your Child as an Extension of You – Your child is a part of you but don’t forget the fact the he/she is an individual with their own likes, dislikes, desires, skills, interests, passion etc. Resist the urge to tell your child to avoid a certain path just because it doesn’t interest you. Understand that your child may absolutely love doing something you dislike and that is okay. Let them discover their own interests and find their own calling. After all, a fulfilling or rewarding career isn’t the one that is most popular or pays most money; it is the one where an individual’s strengths and passion combine.
Help them discover their own Interests – Every child will have unique interests. That’s where the role of parents becomes important. They know their children and can identify early on what interests the child and what they’re good at. Encourage your child to grow and develop in those areas. Help them acquire the necessary skill and knowledge to excel in the area.
Give them options to help them choose – Expose them to different areas of education at an early stage like Science, Math, Travel, Animal, and Equipment to see what piques their interest. Encourage them to try out different activities. If there is a particular subject or an activity that they are curious about, encourage them to learn more about. Provide them with all the resources necessary. Oftentimes, the decision to choose a certain line of work comes naturally as people explore their interests more deeply.
Encourage your child to find their tribe – “You are average of the 5 people you choose to spend most time with”, said Jim Rohn. Over the years we created our own social circle of people who we spend time with, who inspire us and guide us. Company matters for everybody. The same is true for your child. Encourage them to find their set of inspiring peers who motivate. Encourage them to participate in sports, school activities, join local clubs, social organizations etc. that involve meeting like-minded people. Believe it or not, the kind of company they keep does have an impact on their dreams and aspirations for the future.
Help them reach out to a Career Counselor – We, as parents often tend to get biased while guiding our children find the right career as our decisions are heavily influenced by our own experiences, success, failure and of course, societal pressure. That’s where career counselors can help. They provide unbiased advice and guidance. Moreover, they are experts in their field and have the tools and techniques to find out about a person’s aptitude and interest and provide correct guidance. As parents, we may not be aware of the pros and cons or even all the career options and courses available today as times are changing and new fields are emerging. Career counselors are aware of all the latest trends and are in a much better position to offer correct guidance. However, as parents is our duty to help our child reach out to a certified experienced counselor.
Support, don’t’ hover – Parents are the foundation that lift the children and support them as they navigate their way through life. However, we need to remember that it is their life and they are the ones reaching for possibilities. We as parents should stand as rock and support our child’s every move. We can guide them but we should resist the urge to direct them what to do. We have to behind them in a supportive role not hovering over them telling them what to do.
Finally, understand that the quest to find work or job they truly love is far from easy and often a long-drawn process of self-discovery and experimentation. It is alright to falter as they navigate their career path. These are stressful times. As parents, it is up to you to offer them support and encouragement to keep going and become the person they believe they were meant to be.