Choosing Careers has never been easy. It takes knowledge and understanding. Courage is also a requirement, as it involves a certain amount of risk, no matter what Career path one takes. This is true for any individual at any age.
However, the problem become way more complex when we have to make Career decisions in our school days itself. Just imagine, people, who are just in their adolescents, with their hormones running wild and pressured with the preparations for their board exams … happy about having a first-time girlfriend/boyfriend or sad after their first breakup … they would have to make a Career choice that would last a lifetime.
In fact, an adolescents’ thinking and judgement skills (known as cognitive skills) are not fully developed until about the age of 25 years. Unfortunately, this is the norm and we have to deal with it.
Making a decision about choosing Careers at this age does not depend on the adolescent alone. It equally involves the parents and care-takers, who he/she is dependent on. Not only are the parents’ moral and financial support important, but also other logistical support provided by them. This makes it even more complex.
There are so many complexities in choosing Careers
The confusion of the adolescent and his/her caretakers
The board exams, parent-child problems that peak at this phase (the generation gap), the emotional problems of the adolescent, the busy life of the parents and probably so much more creates confusion. The issue of choosing Careers at this stage only overwhelms everyone.
Lack of trust
Boy, it’s not about deciding what to eat for dinner or wear for a party … It’s about choosing Careers – a life choice! Can we just let anybody decide?
For the child, it’s their lives. Even if it’s their parents in question, it’s still not plausible that they would let them decide on that. As it is, at this juncture they feel misunderstood by their parents.
The parents, on the other hand, rightly feel that their child is not mature enough to decide for their future.
Personalities and priorities
So, should we let the parents decide? No. Not entirely. The reason is difference in personalities. Every individual is unique and has different talents, skills and attitudes. Before making any decisions, this is the one most important thing to keep in mind.
Likewise, what a person wants the most out of their lives – riches, status, power, freedom, adventure, comfort or something else – is very important to consider.
It’s not necessary that parents and children will have the same personalities and priorities.
The generation gap
We all know about this. Every generation has felt their parents/children ‘Just Don’t Understand’. Period.
Over-involvement of a parent
“We have had thousands of dreams for your great life. From the time you were born, we have always thought you would make us proud and happy. Now it’s your responsibility to fulfil those dreams.” Are we well-acquainted with these words?
Dear Parents, I don’t want to know if you have said these to your kids. I would rather ask you if your parents have ever said such things to you!
Parents love their kids. But sometimes the love becomes possessive. And even though parents feel it’s for the good of their children, it’s not necessarily so. Especially if the decisions are not thought out carefully and made according to some prior conceptions or parents’ personal likes or dislikes, then it can actually ruin a person’s Career.
Lack of Effective Communication
Ta da! Why do I feel this rears its ugly head into every problem?
The adolescent is confused, aggressive, can’t relate to his parents, wants freedom and so on.
The parent is confused, frightened, helpless, distanced, protective, sometimes aggressive and over-powering.
Where can we place communication here? Nowhere, if at least one side does not take an active stance. It’s tough and involves stepping into the other person’s shoes. But, if proper actions are not taken, it may become a huge obstacle in the path of making a proper decision about choosing Careers.
The Comfort zone
Sounds comfortable! But this remains one of the most lingering obstacles all our lives, if we don’t take care of it.
The father is a businessman and the mother is a clerk or better still, both are clerks. And the child and the parents have heard from different places that engineering is the most trending Career these days. So, the only Career options available to the adolescent are either to be a clerk, an engineer or join dad’s business.
Most people fear or dislike the unknown. They either willingly block touch with the unknown or do not make the time and effort to know them. And either way, it’s a loss.
The result – Identity Foreclosure
We discussed about so many points, but could not come to a decision, could we? This happens in real life, too. Unable to decide, everyone involved finds an easy way out – Not making decisions at all.
This does not mean they stop doing whatever they were doing. It means they just go with the flow.
- Do what the parents do.
- Do what majority of peers are doing.
- Do what parents, teachers or others advice (without exploration).
- Do what’s in the trend.
- Do the childhood dream. “From my childhood, I dreamt to be a pilot … and a bus conductor … and a teacher … and a doctor. And I have won a few competitions in singing, dancing, swimming and maths. Being the doctor or pilot is good, because everyone says these are good professions. Let’s choose among these. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe … Let me be a Pilot!”
So many people do these. And they do these for the lack of better options.
So what to do?
Be open to explore newer options. Some of them may not be good, but we can always give up on those bad options later. Exploring can’t be harmful. And the effort? Trust me, they are worth it! You will surely find some great options as well.
Understand the other person’s (your child’s/parent’s) feelings and needs from their perspectives; not what you think they need or feel. Improving communication and your relationship will necessitate this. Improved communication and a good discussion, in turn, will make everything so much easier.
A family of adolescents and their middle-aged parents (probably made more complex with elderly grandparents) is a chaotic one. Too many things are to be taken care of.
Often (almost always if I may say it), a professional’s help is highly advisable. Not only will such a person be more experienced dealing with such situations, they can also offer a much-needed third party viewpoint.
Counselling can mean a lot of things. One person/family, most probably, would not need all of them, as all areas in their lives won’t be problematic. You may choose whichever are relevant to you.
- Career counselling: Exploring the best possible Career options for an individual. Keeping in mind several factors are necessary so that an informed decision can be made.
- Problem-solving counselling: Counselling other problem areas of the adolescent (or her parents) is necessary to pursue good Career/education. For example: problems like depression or aggression may create havoc and ruin Career if not taken care of first.
- Relationship counselling: This may involve improving the adolescent’s relationship with others or improving other problematic relationships in the family, e.g. relationship among parents.
Do you have any more points that would aide in choosing Career for an adolescent? Please let us know. :)