How young should parent/children discussions about career path begin?

Parents are the most influential individuals in the lives of their children and their career paths. According to Wall Street Journal, families that spend time together at the dinner table are likely to feel more connected, and parents will have a stronger influence on their children’s decisions. Moreover, the article discussed how stimulating conversations and regular family discussions can have a positive influence on children and their future career choices.

“Parents who are involved in the initial development of their children enable them to achieve higher grades and test scores and attain better attitudes and behavior,” says Syed Abidi, a renowned career counsellor in Lahore, India.

According to Syed, communication is key in establishing a trusting and open relationship with children, and it is recommended to start as early as possible. In fact, children between the ages of 10 and 14 are more likely to benefit from career counseling and advice from parents than children of any other age. This is largely due to the child’s stage in development which consists of important steps, such as developing interests, finding a passion, and thinking of future plans.

“Parents must approach children using the 4-Cs: connection, capability, counting and courage.” says Syed, “Connection is the sense of belonging; capability is the ability to take care of oneself; counting is the knowledge which makes a difference; and courage is the belief that you can handle what comes.”

Using the 4-Cs, parents can understand how to reach their children and encourage them to openly express their opinions, ideas, and hopes for the future. Part of the process is recognizing the types of questions and concerns that children might have regarding their futures. In particular, teenagers are concerned about choosing the right career path, finding their passion, and understanding how their passion can translate into a career. However, parents will not be able to address any of these concerns without establishing a safe environment in which the discussions can take place. For this reason, it is crucial that parents approach their children with understanding, empathy, patience, and even some humor. Without a softer approach to the subject, children are likely to back away and avoid opening up about these types of personal matters.

Once a line of communication has been opened, there are various ways in which parents can engage their children and start a discussion. In specific, parents can engage their children in conversation by sharing interesting news stories, personal stories from work, new discoveries, innovations, or inventions they read about, or even ideas that helped shaped their thinking as young adults. Regardless of the topic, parents will want to use discussions as a means of guiding their children throughout the decision making process when it comes to choosing an academic and/or professional career path.

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

Through discussions based on great ideas, parents can influence their children to follow their dreams or follow in their footsteps. However, this cannot be down without first establishing a trusting and open connection with their children. Whether “great ideas” are discussed at the dinner table or the living room, the most important thing is for parents to see the value in having discussions with their children about their future hopes and dreams.