How to Help Your Teenager Make the Right Career Choices

Today I woke up with an oppressive sensation, a vaguely familiar sense of dread swept over me. That foreboding signal telling me that it was time to pull myself together and step into one of the most difficult tasks of parenting. Deciding my child’s future.

Your teenager is drawing towards the end of school years? All of a sudden you start wondering if you’ve done enough for your child who is no longer a child really, although you’re the only one who thinks she still is. I will use the ‘she’ form just for the sake of personal experience, which will however, soon turn ‘he’ again in a few years time. Hopefully by then I will have leaned to deal with this parenting phase.

Are we honestly aware of who our child has suddenly become? Do we know where to go and what tools to use to pave the ground for her? Or should we allow her to go out and deal with life as it is?

I think, as in most cases, there is a just milieu. We should allow them to discover what it is to become adults while walking beside them to help them along if they trip or fall, yet respecting their personality and emotions.

Being a parent is at once the most frustrating and gratifying ‘job’ on the career list. Although here I will be discussing teen career concerns, parenting has a lot to do with how successful your future adult will turn out to be, both as an individual and professionally.

Parenting is indeed hard work yet incredibly rewarding. However there are different stages and obstacles you cannot avoid along the way as your child grows up, and these can be more or less daunting. As your child, now officially a teenager suddenly steps into the real world, you will soon find yourself confronted with one of the most important issues you have ever been faced with before. Where does my child go from here? What can I do to help my teenager’s future?

Although the final decision will of course be theirs, teenagers obviously feel overwhelmed by the work involved. Not only because their choice will determine their future, but also because the options are many and it can be a difficult task to find out where and to whom they need to go for help.

This is where our role as a parent becomes extremely important. Not only as a support for our teenager’s academic choices, but even more so to help them through their doubts and fears. Encouragement and praise is fundamental. Children naturally seek to please and gratify their parents, from their first drawings on to their academic or sports successes. Showing them we are genuinely interested will do wonders to boost their egos and fuel their need to succeed.

Sadly, some parents don’t have time to sit down with their child to show their genuine interest, to praise and gratify their child with encouraging words. Most times parents only react to bad marks or misbehaviour. This results in parents being portrayed as perpetually telling off and generally unhappy and stressed, thus leading to a communication problem.

Determining what career our teenager ought to follow should in fact have started years before her teens. As our child grows up and interacts with the social sphere, we should be able to pick up signs that can help us determine what interests and passions our child really has. Our next step, as parents is to stimulate those areas we feel our child may have a capacity or passion for. How can a child know what she wants to do if she doesn’t have the chance to try out a variety of stimulating activities?

Okay, let’s say we never had as a parent the time or energy to stimulate our child’s interest. What do we do now? Get closer to our teenagers, show them we really care, spend more time doing research with them, talk about what they really like, what they are afraid of. Surprisingly, although most parents dread the ‘teen blues’ this period actually reveal itself to be an excellent one for getting closer to them. This can also help you wade through their moods and conflicting reactions. Using the common aim of searching for a possible career option, is a good way of getting closer, helping you both through these emotionally stressful times.

Discuss various aspects of own your personality, recalling how you were at their age, without being patronizing. Laugh about the mistakes you made, how your own parents were, what choices were, whether you are satisfied now with what you have achieved. You’ll be surprised at how interested our teenagers are about how we were as teenagers.

I often tell my teenage daughter how relieved I am that she is so organized and meticulous with her work, so unlike her own mother at her age! I also tell her that she should recognize and accept her own stress, in order to be able to deal with it, as this is her weak point, as she puts it. However, I like to repeat to her that it’s better to be stressed about work than not to care at all. This shows she feels responsible for her own work, and respects the work of others.

So, although it is important to search the academic aspect of our teenager’s career, such as studying options and on the job training, it is fundamental to keep in mind what our teenager is really like and how our young adult will relate to different career fields. It is also fundamental to stimulate and motivate any passion or talent they may have. Money should not be an issue, what use is a career that pays tons when you are bored, dissatisfied and don’t even have the time to live a life? Keep in mind that the career or job is something our teen will have to pursue for years later, especially if a degree or specific qualification is attained.

You are at a turning point in your life and so is your teenager, help them make the right choices, by listening and talking about how they really feel. Be there when they need practical advice, but most of all keep in mind that your teenager should feel happy an fulfilled regardless of the type of job. The secret of success is the love for what they do.

by Sonia Ferrigno©

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