What are you hoping to do?

For those of us with teenagers, the question “What are you hoping to do?” often arises in conversations with your friends or even their friends. You might be lucky and have a teenager who has discovered what it is they want to do for a living and are working hard to achieve this. Or chances are you are one of the majority of parents who are not sure how to guide their teenager to zero in on what pathway is best for them. So what should you do and, more importantly, how can you help them make their first career decision?

Firstly, I encourage parents to be supporters of their teenager who needs to find an answer from within; that is, a career which suits them, matches their interests, talents, skills, and strengths. Your teenager needs to understand themself first before they can begin to make choices. You can help by noticing what your teenager does well and reminding them.

Secondly, make the time to help your teenager explore pathways of interest so they can connect with options which inspire them. You can do this by asking open-ended questions to stimulate their career thinking, which explore possible ways to realise their dreams, and how to find out information about these for themselves. The best job fit happens when career choices align with who the person really is.

Thirdly, try to avoid having any preconceived idea or plan for what your teenager should do. It’s their life, not yours and there’s not a magic answer or actually a right time for an answer to be derived. As teenagers are exploring the world and working out their place in it, the end of high school is not necessarily the perfect time for knowing how they will make their living. You can help by reducing the pressure of having to come up with any answer and instead encourage them to find out more about their areas of interest.

Finally, your teenager is lucky if you can support them in zeroing in on their first career decision. Helping your teenager have a direction and an answer to the question “What are you hoping to do?” is a great contribution as a parent. Fortunately, for you though as their parent, it’s not likely to be the last career decision they will make.

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