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Can We Help Our Children Choose A Profession?

by Louise W. Rice
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This question is actually hard to answer, although it might not seem that way at first glance. A type of question that requires a great deal of respect toward your child and their proclivities on the one hand and a healthy serving of reality on the other. 

There is a valid opinion among psychologists that 18-20 years of age is way too young to be choosing a profession for life. However, that’s the age many people start thinking about college or finding a job and generally picking a path in life. So what should we, as parents and guardians, be aware of if we attempt to participate in the risky venture of choosing a profession? 

Start at an early age

We absolutely do not mean to start choosing a profession at an early age. What we mean is, start paying attention to their proclivities and abilities. Great behaviorists believed one skill can manifest itself at opposite ends of the spectrum. Thus if a child has exceptional fine motor skills, he has equal chances of being a pickpocket or a jeweler. You get the gist. So take a close look at your little one. What are they good at? Does it coincide with their field of interest? Can you set the ground for their development on a certain path? 

As parents, it is our job to help our kids explore the world around them. Be with nature, walk barefoot on the grass and sand. But we also need to let your child be in touch with modern technology. Even a best budget 3D printer UK market has in spades can teach our kids a great deal about physics, chemistry, and design. And yes, teaching them about how computers and phones work will make their life easier. Just keep in mind to set limits on screen time. 

If we just watch our kids closely, they will tell us what they are interested in and what they are good at. Even if their strong skills seem too generic to you, try to give them a name. For example, “ My child is great at concentrating for extensive stretches of time.” Or vice versa, “My kid has no idea how to sit still for 2 seconds”. The latter is more common, wouldn’t you say? That active disposition might prove itself handy when they are choosing a sport to play, or nagging you to take them hiking!

Yes, our children change and evolve constantly, but they still have proclivities that they take through life without fail. It’s an advantage if you can pinpoint them and utilize them properly. 

“Extensive study” Professions

If your child has an aptitude for science or at least exhibits interest in being a scientist, or a medical professional, it is important they fully realize what those professions require. The financial aspect is a big part of it, as scholarships are scarce. However, another side of these professions is the extensive studies your child will be required to complete. Meeting brutal deadlines, reading, researching practically non-stop, and complying with insane working schedules. This is the reality for any med student. 

If you feel that your child does have the interest, but lacks the discipline, this is where you might want to step in and have a talk about it. Why did we choose to discuss the extensive study professions separately? For one reason only. They typically require the longest time to master. So you and your child have to be aware that these are not the professions to choose on a whim.  It’s a creative process as much as a logical one.

There are two sides to this medal. The logical part seems rather straightforward, doesn’t it?  We need a profession to make a living. There’s no way around the practical issue at hand. Now, if your child claims they want to become a modern art critic or a professional poker player, a healthy dose of reality check might be in order. This doesn’t mean discourage them altogether. Just touch base to find out if they truly understand what the job entails and how they can make a living at it. As parents, it is our duty to make sure our children are informed and ready to make a decision. 

However, there’s the second side of the medal as well that we often forget about. The best skill our child could have in regards to choosing a path is recognizing themselves. Being in touch with their own thoughts, emotions, strong and weak sides. This is the only way they can hope to achieve a homeostatic combination of knowledge, skill, and passion, that we all crave, and most of us lack. Also, the family and the broader community are responsible for creating a fertile culture for the kid to grow and make a weighted decision. 

No pressure

It might seem to you that you know best, but whenever that thought creeps its way into your brain, you need to stop it. No, we don’t always know best. We are humans, just like they are. And yes, we have lived longer, and have more experience, but the most we have the right to do is leave the door to us open, for whenever they choose to use it. 

We wouldn’t pressure our friends into doing things they don’t want to do, yet we feel the right to pressure our kids. And remember, this is not about discipline anymore. Yes, by all means, your 5-year old has to wash hands before dinner, but this is about the life of an almost-fully grown human being. This means that as a parent, you have to be aware of where your child stops and your expectations of them begin. Expectations are a heavy burden. Be careful and remember that it’s not your decision to make at the end of the day. You are a cheerleader in this game.  So no pressure. 

Practicality

Many scientists believe that we often choose a profession out of sync with our skills only because we have a flawed idea of what the job actually entails. When you want to become an anchor, the crazy schedule and the lack of spare time are not the first things that come to mind. 

So when your child comes up to you and says they want to be a DJ, make sure they truly understand the day-to-day of this job and the opportunities that come with it. 

This does not mean you have to be aware of everything everywhere. But you can still arrange a few meetings for them, or encourage them to seek internship positions that will give them an insight into what the job is actually like, day in and day out. 

A taste of the real world

Before amazing opportunities present themselves and “the rest of your life” begins, most of us have to comply with the real world. Yes, our kids can take a summer job they don’t like, or even a permanent job they don’t like. That experience can teach them to strive for what they actually want while having the necessary skills to deal with hardship and disappointment. 

Closing thoughts

With all of that said, we, as parents, can be most helpful in one key aspect of choosing a path in life, having a wide range of skills. We are responsible for our children for as long as they are small and need our help. Practically, we feel responsible for them all our lives. 

However, we can and must help our children expand their “skill box”. So that when the opportunity presents itself, our kids can confidently step in and think, “I can do this.” We are the ones who are responsible for making sure they have the right mindset to know who they are, what they want, and where they are going. And even if they are lost, they have to know we are here for them no matter what. 

So to all of us worried parents out there…yes, we can help our children choose a profession. But only through educating them and ourselves on who our kids really are and how we can assist them in getting where they want to be. Not through pressure and strain. 

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