Parent’s role in their child's career choices

As parents, your children will look to you for advice and guidance even if they don’t like to admit it. Parents have a key role to play in the decision-making and the general career path your children choose to pursue; but how involved should you be in this decision-making process? Should you adopt a hands-on role? What is the best advice you can give your child at this point? 

Parents have adopted beliefs about success, how to be successful and what constitutes a ‘good job’ or ‘ideal life’. Anything we feedback to our children is based on these beliefs and our own experiences. Many of us make the mistake of trying to shield our children from the mistakes that we made - whether knowingly or unknowingly. While we can guide them away from some of the pitfalls we encountered, they’ll inevitably make mistakes and hiccups along the journey – but these hiccups are vital for their personal growth.

The best thing you can instill is a mature and sensible mindset, giving your children the tools to make their own informed decisions. How you can influence your child:

•   Set a good example (socially, personally and professionally) for your child.

•   The attitudes, views and values you adopt and express.

•   The expectations you set for your children’s education, career and life.

•   The opportunities you provide for your children to learn and develop.

•   In terms of career choice, you should aid, but not dictate, the decision-making process.

•   Support your child’s decisions.

•   Give your children freedom and time to discover their skills.

•   Provide motivation to develop and achieve.

•   Provide encouragement to pursue interests and ambitions.

•   Impart an attitude of self-belief by being positive– as a parent, your words will have the biggest effect on your child.

The decisions we make in our early life (e.g. what school we go to, the subjects we chose to study, the decision to go to university/college, the courses we choose) can impact our career path. If this decision is heavily swayed by parental preference, the child may end up following a vocation that, deep down, they aren’t interested in. At the same time, without practical guidance and support when pursuing interests, poor choices can be made.

Parents will often say things such as “pick a course you think you’ll like” or “why don’t you apply for this job”. Though it may seem they’re doing the right thing in terms of steering their children in the right direction, parents also need to understand that we all need space and time to discover what we truly want to pursue. How many of us are in careers we thought we would be in when we were 18?  We can only make decisions based on what we know about ourselves at the time, take the pressure off them by letting them know it's okay that they aren't sure what they want to do yet but the important thing is to be proactive in finding their way.