Let’s flip this over and talk about how you actually can help. As a parent your self-awareness of your child can really help.
Your child has been giving you clues about themselves for a long time … and these in turn may become elements of career paths.
Think about some of the clues they’ve been giving you:
- Sporty or love to read (could be both!)
- Loves animals; cares deeply for others
- Makes grand plans for the way life is going to be, idealistic and optimistic
- Is creative, artistic, musical, loves to make and design things
- Has personality plus, has an opinion about most things, loves talking and persuading others
- Is developing a consciousness about the world and its problems. Engages with social justice themes and takes action. Thinks deeply
- Likes to take things apart to discover how they work
- Is careful and quiet, makes plans but doesn’t shout about them
- Loves details and finding out why and how things work the way they do
- Is good at maths, problem solving
- Can be found making things, trying things out, testing new ideas
- And a whole lot more.
These are just some of the clues you may have observed. Take a moment and make a list some of the clues they have given you.
Chances are, some of those things you are writing down are found very close to home – you. Parents influence, pass on skills, passions, ideas, talents, and model behaviours that you are now seeing in your child. Of course, they aren’t clones, but you will see family influences coming through.
Then take a moment and see how you see these things working out in your life. How your work and career and interests intersect. If you can, think about the clues together. Notice the little things, and the big things, and see if you can put some more pieces of the puzzle together.
Working on this:
- Start a clues list. Notice and recall things about your child. Notice what they love, and what they really don’t like.
- Think about work. Along the way, you might have thought that your son or daughter would be really good at … make a note of those ideas.
- As a parent, let go of the perfect job and the perfect life you imagined for your child. Accept that there’s things that will be right for them but they might be different to what you imagined. Be ok with that.
- Listen in to their ideas when they are sharing. Listen for clues – what they love, what they’re good at.
- Learn more about careers and work ideas, tune in to where the future of work is going, and look out for things that could be in the right areas.
- Then, when the time is right, listen to your child (who is actually a young adult now) and hear them, reflect back what you know, affirm good choices, guide through less certain territory. Refrain from judging.
Last thought: this exercise will look different for everyone. Use what you can of this. Look out for advice that is grounded and reliable. Learn to recognise reliable sources. Recommended for parents: www.myfuture.edu.au – you may need to take out a subscription. It’s $15 per year and well worth the investment.
What to read next? What do you want to be when you grow up?