Published On: Mon, May 13th, 2013

Should You Career Steer Your Kids?

Danielle Mantakoul

While at the restaurant Should You Career Steer Your Kidswaiting for our meal to come, my seven year old daughter draws. This certainly is a talent of hers and one she thoroughly enjoys. As she does so I comment to her. “There are many different jobs you can do when you’re big that involve drawing”. My husband looks up from his drink and says. “Yes but it won’t pay very well”. I promptly reply “what’s that got to do with it”?  He says nothing but looks across the table at me like I am from another planet.

Do you career steer your kids or are you simply crossing your fingers and hoping they choose wisely? Statistics show that 70% of people currently hate their jobs. (See Forbes Article) That’s a lot of unhappy people at work! To me it’s obvious. These people have chosen the wrong line of work. Are their parents to blame here for lack of guidance, or at a bare minimum have they played a role here? My grandmother would say that there is nothing wrong with a little guidance. And while I agree, I think that it can be difficult for us to know the difference between guidance and influence. While guidance can be helpful, too much influence can lead to unhappy working adults.

When your young child announces to you that they want to be something that you’re not fond of, do you smile and say “that’s nice” or do you cringe and start running through all the reasons as to why you don’t think this is a good idea! Well more and more parents are doing the latter and not ashamed to admit it. A dear friend of mine at the mention from her son of any career path paying below 100K quickly diverts his attention to more “appropriate” jobs.

Most of us realise that when our young children are throwing around thoughts on what they want to be when they are big, that they have little idea what the job they are talking about entails. They are simply roleplaying in their heads, dreaming if you will. Our role here when they are little, is to enjoy the dream with them. You can though help to set your child up to be happy with their future work life, by considering the following.

As parents we can help.
Give your child jobs to do around the house. This helps them to begin to develop a work ethic so whatever career they choose, they will be better prepared.

Encourage your kids to roleplay. If their play involves a firefighter that day, run with this and tell them they look great in the hat, and are so brave! Try to avoid labelling your child with a certain profession simply because they have shown interest in it. “Oh he wants to be a firefighter when he grows up”. Labels can stick and send children in the wrong direction due to the limitations it can harbour.

Highlight different jobs to them to begin to make them aware of the possibilities. You should simply be talking about different peoples jobs and what they do, not assessing them. Catch the postman delivering the mail? Chat to your child about his responsibilities.

Talk about your own job. Let your kids know that everyone has a job that matters. All jobs help to make the world go round and when they are bigger, they will find the right one for them. You need to give the message to your child that working is a normal part of adult life.

Ensure you are providing your child with experiences that will open them up to the world so they can start working out what they do and don’t like. Encourage them to be thinking about what they are good at and no so much so. Remind them of their interests and talents regularly while avoiding comments about future career paths. Leave this for later down the track. Early Childhood is not the time to do this.

Keep in mind that 65% of kids will end up in jobs that haven’t even been created yet. (Quibly)

“I am an advocate for happiness, and a big part of someone being happy is I believe their job. The best I can hope with my kids, is that I will have established a good enough relationship with them that when it comes to career path time, that they will turn to me and ask “what do you think mum”? I can only hope that I have given them enough of an opportunity to dream, and enough exposure to the world to make the right decision for themselves”.

By Danielle Mantakoul
Copyright 2012

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