During the teenage years, our children grow to become adults. During this period our communications with them change gradually from 'top down' instruction and control to a more 'equal' and shared experience. Our 'young adults' are faced with taking ownership of their own lives, and adapting to the challenges that face them.
Some of the concerns expressed by young adults are:
- They aren't sure how they want to live their lives
- They are uncertain whether to follow their dreams
- There is so much going on in life they have difficulty making decisions
- They worry about making wrong choices that may affect them for a long time
- They haven't experienced enough about possible occupations or career paths to know what they want to do
- They don't feel they can talk to their parents about what is going on in their lives
Most teenage children are, however, happy to talk to their parents about their career concerns. They expect that you will be interested - so its important to show it by taking the time to listen and encourage them in their exploration.
As a persons career covers so much of their life, many topics can be discussed that indirectly relate to their career direction, and can inform them on possible choices. We suggest:
- Openly discuss career choices and interests at meal times
- Actively introduce your child to anyone you know who might have experience or work in an area your child expresses an interest in
- Encourage your child to undergo as much work experience as possible (especially during Transition Year if they are taking that programme), and discuss at length their experience. A work experience that indicates to a student that they don't like a type of work is just as valuable as one that confirms their direction.
- Draw attention to articles in the media on people who describe their career path
- Recommend and discuss any music, books, websites, movies, TV shows, sports activities that interest you and may provide inspiration for possible careers
One of the best, and often the easiest points of discussion centres around your own experiences and how you made the choices you did. Some of the following may open discussions with your child:
- What is your story - how has your career unfolded?
- How much of what you experienced do you think is relevant to today's children? Ask how are things different now - this may draw your attention to what concerns them most.
- Are there any experiences you went through that they could learn from?
- How did adults in your life help/hinder you along your path?
- Was there help and information available to you that you needed, but didn't know how to find?
- What did you want to be when you were your child's age and what are you doing now?
- What changes would you have made if you could?
- What things happened to you that you wouldn't change?
- How can you learn from your experience with your parents?
- What were your 'career decision milestones' - those big decisions you made along your career path to date? What events influenced these decisions and what actions did you take?
You might also encourage conversations around such topics with relatives and friends in the company of your children. In these conversations a child can pick up a lot of influential information, including the values people have and the reason why people make 'big' decisions and live by the consequences.