How to be supportive without being interfering
If you have a teenager who is nearing graduation, how do you talk to them about career choices? If your child is like many teens, they might not know what they want to do for a career. They might avoid the question or feel stressed when asked about it. What is the best way to get through to them? How can you help them think about a career without interfering too much? Here are some suggestions on a supportive way to guide your teenager in thinking about this important stage of their life.
Tip 1: Make it comfortable for your teen
Talking about careers can be stressful for teens. They may not want to talk with you about it, and trying to force the issue will only backfire. Instead, try to talk about it in small doses. Ask about it casually in a comfortable setting, such as driving with you in the car or while watching a show together, during the commercials. This might be more comfortable for them than a serious discussion at the dinner table.
Tip 2: Share a few resources—but don’t overwhelm
The Internet is a big place, and sharing too many career-related resources with your child might just overwhelm them. But if you do a little research on your own, and find just a couple useful resources, your teen might appreciate the guidance. Two resources that might be helpful are:
- Education Planner: This website is a government resource with career videos, career interest surveys, job outlooks for the future, school information, and other helpful info for teens.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: This online handbook is like an encyclopedia of jobs. It offers a short profile on hundreds of different jobs. It is easily searchable and gives a quick glance of any job field your child might be considering.
Tip 3: Find real-life examples
One thing that the Internet cannot provide is real live people who have experience in different job fields. As an adult, this is something you can offer your child. Try to get your teen to talk with your friends and relatives about the careers they have pursued and what kinds of lessons they have learned. Again, do this in a low-pressure fashion, just to allow your teen to get a sense of the types of jobs that are out in the world.
Tip 4: Make a list of the pros and cons together
Teenagers are too young to have the long-range perspective that you have as an adult. Your gentle guidance can help them make sense of some of the pros and cons of different career choices. Rather than saying: “No, you shouldn’t be a [fill in the blank], that’s not a good career choice!” you can say, “Let’s look at the pros and cons, and see how this career path compares to other job fields that you might like.”
Tip 5: Help them plan a path
Once your teen has begun to narrow down the choices, you can help by sitting down with them to plan out a path to get there. They may need your help in looking at colleges or career schools that offer the training they will need for that particular career path. Help your child be sure that the educational path is reasonable for them to achieve.
With these tips, we hope you can offer guidance that your teen can use, and at the same time, still feel empowered to make their own decision about their future career path. This is an exciting and pivotal time of their lives, and being supportive of them is important. Best of luck to you and to your teen!
The Harris Casel Institute in Melbourne, Florida, invites recent graduates to tour our facility and consider the healthcare career training that we offer. Contact us online for more information!