As a parent or guardian, the impact you have on your child goes far beyond their formative years: so many of the decisions they ultimately make will be based upon what they learned early on. Their career path is one of these decisions. We spoke to Denise Luker, an experienced specialist Career Coach, about what a parent can do to make a career transition easy, natural, and enjoyable for their child.
Respect your child’s interests
With the parent-child relationship, there’s often an expectation of continuity. One of the ways this can manifest is that a parent might want their child to continue a business they’ve built. This might be a great way for their child to have an income while pursuing their own interests as hobbies, but it isn’t for everyone. Your child might have a passion they want to explore professionally, and in that case it’s best not to make them feel obligated to continue your life’s work. There’s a flip side to this too: don’t push your kids to do something you haven’t done. Your children are their own people, and while it’s a common wish among people that their kids do what they themselves couldn’t manage, it’s a lot of pressure to put on a young person. Let them be clear about what works for them, and let their decisions be their own.
Encourage them to branch out
Kids can be super passionate about particular interests: dinosaurs, art, entertainment. However, some passions fizzle out when they become careers. Just because your child loves something now doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll want to take it up for the rest of their life. Encourage your kids to explore different fields through school clubs, field trips, and extracurricular activities. This way, they have a Plan B in place. Putting all your eggs in one basket is a mistake young people often make because of the passion and idealism of youth. Helping your kids branch out and see that there are multiple options out there will help if they want to pursue a different path as they get older.
Be the right amount of supportive
While it may seem necessary to get very involved in school and extracurricular activities to keep a check on how your young person is doing, resist the urge! Understanding how to be the right amount of supportive requires a strict balance. You don’t need to get into the specifics of everything your kid does. Rather, it’s important to be there in the background, and to make it known that you are open to helping them when possible. This is a necessary confidence-building measure which also encourages a degree of independence.
Help your child with market research
As parents, what we should be doing is presenting our child with options. Researching the prerequisites and practical realities of different types of professions can open their eyes (and yours!) to what’s out there. You can reach out to their teachers and counsellors for the job data and documentation they receive, so that you’re aware of newer industries and fields that are in demand. Build up a list of certifications and talk to your child realistically about them, so that they can make their own informed decisions.
Reach out to your personal network
Your own personal network that you’ve built through your life is invaluable in your child’s career journey. You may know someone in the field your child is interested in, and it’s a great idea to set up a meeting so that they can explore further. Nothing compares to real-life experience and knowledge, and putting your child in touch with someone who has the right insight is both practical and helpful. Encouraging your child to nurture these relationships will also help them in network-building in their professional life later on.