Parental Misgivings

As parents, we have seen our children take birth and grow up needing us for the smallest of things. We have fed them, bathed them, looked after them with more care than we even afford ourselves. Because we have seen them rely on us so heavily in their early years, we sometimes don't recognize when it's time to break the umbilical chord.

It is natural for us to forget that as parents, it is our job to enable them to live their own lives, and not hold their hand and guide them through each step. I hear a lot of parents tell me things like 'I’m letting my child have a mind of their own', but this is precisely the issue. We need to realize that it is not our place to 'let them' do anything. Our job is to give them all the guidance and understanding in their growing years, and trust that once the time comes they are capable of making smart, informed and well thought out choices about their own lives.

After all, we will not be around to look after them forever, right?

This same situation holds true for making their career decisions. Parents play a very crucial role in their child's career choices, but it is vital that we remember that this is not our journey, it is theirs. It has to be their decision, and we are only there to guide and advise. Each parent needs to make that distinction before embarking on their child's career decisioning journey.

There are a number of things most of us end up doing that could affect our child's career choices negatively, and it is time we accept that what worked for us in our lives may not work for them in theirs. Most parents generally take one of the following stands about their child's career:

1) I want my child to do what I do

2) I do not want my child to do what I do

3) I couldn’t care less either way

4) I will force my child to unconventional careers

None of these are fair to your child. Let's look at the reasons for this:

1) I want my child to do what I do

While it is reasonable to think that your family business or your own career line is a great one to be in, and the fact that you are already in it makes it easier still for your child, this is not always true. A successful career relies heavily on the innate abilities and strengths of an individual, and you and your child are not the same person, or may not possess the same abilities, no matter how hard you try. If you run a business of your own, and are great at managing your staff, this does not necessarily mean your child will be great at managing them too. Pushing them to learn when they would rather not is not a solution. Also, it is unfair of you to try and protect your child through their career, because it would be a lot harder for them to cope with work situations if you are not around.

2) I do not want my child to do what I do

You may have had bad experiences in your career journey. You may feel like the industry you are from is not a good one. You may feel like there is better scope elsewhere, and that you do not want your child to go through the hardships you have had to face. This is completely understandable, and as a parent it is your right to protect your child. But remember that you cannot protect them forever. And that your experience was yours alone. There is a chance that your child has the certain abilities or advantages that allow them to succeed in your career line that you did not have. It is our responsibility to try and ensure our children have better lives than we did, but this does not mean that they cannot have a better life even while following in your footsteps. Do not oppose them if they would want consider this possibility, but instead give them your inputs, advice and experience, and let them make the decision

3) I couldn’t care less either way

Taking a stand where you are not bothered about your child's career journey is not helpful to anyone. It is unfair of you to give them the reins without equipping them with the suitable gear that they need. Parents play a massive role in their child's career decision, because who else will your child go to for guidance, if not you? You know your child well enough to understand what they need, if you are open to listen to them. Be there when they want to talk, put across their ideas, or get some input. Encourage them to do their research and ask them questions that they wouldn't know to think of. They will make the right decisions when you are there to help them understand things they are still too young to get.

4) I will force my child to unconventional careers

This is a very unfair thing to your child, simply because you should not be forccing them into any career. You may think engineering is a saturated career and that every second person is an engineer, and you want your child to be unique. You want them to stand apart from the crowd, be the person everyone talks about as having chosen to go 'off the beaten track', but for all you know, they may have the ability to be a great engineer. For all you know, your child will have both a talent and a passion for engineering, and could be the next Bill Gates or Elon Musk! Trust your child's abilities and encourage them to discover their own passions and strengths. The only way your child will enjoy a successful (and unconventional) career is if you

can help discover their perfect career path.

While we may think we know best as parents, we need to accept that our knowledge is limited, and the world is changing too fast for even us to keep up! We need to try and be as open as possible, and allow our children to discover their own journey as we stand in the sidelines and watch, just in case they need our help. It is time to take of the training wheels, but that does not mean we must cut ourselves off from them or that they will never need us again. Because as natural as it is for us as parents to worry about them, it is just as natural for our children to depend on us as well. It's time we make them #FutureReady!

To read more from me, you can find my book - Future Ready: A Guide for Parents and Teachers, (FREE on Kindle) here

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