Being responsible for guiding your child towards their future career can feel overwhelming – and can also be frustrating when your child does not listen to you or take your advice. But picking a time when you and your child are both relaxed or doing other things can help you make inroads.
Helpful hints for having a career conversation with your child
Choosing the right time will help you make in-roads with your child
To get the best results out of any career discussions with your child or children, you should pick times when you and your child are both relaxed. If your child is not interested, or if there is any tension between you, it’s better to try again another time.
Start conversations with general questions. That way your child won’t feel like you are on their case, or that they’ve been backed into a corner. You can then explore a wide variety of ideas without putting pressure on them.
Once you’ve talked generally, ask questions to get your child to focus on themselves. Explore their interests, things they are good at and their personal values.
If your child does not have a career idea in mind, ask them to define broad areas of interest, then encourage them to investigate options related to each area.
Discuss what your child needs or wants from their career. Attitudes towards money, security or self-development may help to identify career options.
Encourage any activity that develops skills. Many important skills that employers are looking for are developed at school. Skills are also gathered from part-time work, holiday jobs, and leisure activities such as sports.
Discuss subject choices with your child each year. Would they rather keep their options open? Or if they have a career in mind, what are the best subjects for them to choose?
What to avoid
Don’t impose your ideas – instead ask questions to clarify an issue. For example, “This is a desk job, but you said that you would like to meet different people all the time? Does that matter?”
Don’t discourage your child with comments such as “That’s not right for you”. This will push them away. Instead, explore the reasoning behind their career decision, and help them find out for themselves if it is the right choice.
Don’t push the conversation if your child is not responding, try another time instead. It’s also good to let your child know that you’re always available to talk if they need you.