Choosing a career path is often one of the most difficult choices a young adult will make. This decision has become increasingly more difficult due to the number of vocational and educational options as well as the cost of education.
A young adult’s career choice may be affected by a wide range of factors including:
- Knowledge of vocational options available to them, as people tend to choose what they know.
- Peer pressure
- Economic status
- Parental influence
Intentional or not, parents have an influence on their children’s vocational decisions. Parents may encourage their children to pursue a career in the same field as themselves. Alternatively, there may be an underlying message from parents “not to make the same mistakes I made”. In some cases, if the parents are paying for their child’s education, the child may be hesitant to enroll in certain programs out of fear their parents will not approve. If a child feels forced into a particular field of study/occupation because of their parent’s beliefs, they will likely be less interested in performing well in the field. Additionally, parents may put pressure on their children to make decisions regarding their career by a certain age without recognizing that readiness to make such a big decision varies from person to person.
What can parents do to assist their children to make career decisions that are best for them? Below are some suggestions:
- Parents should talk to their children about their areas of strength, as these may be skills they could bring to the job market. Encourage the child to pursue a career which would utilize these strengths. For example, a child who is skilled at math should consider careers which require good mathematical abilities.
- Encourage career exploration in order to allow the child to explore the vocational options available to them. Courses are sometimes offered as part of the school or college curriculum to help students broaden their knowledge of occupations. Parents may consider becoming involved in arranging job shadowing experiences for their children as a learning tool. Additionally, volunteering is another good way for students to gain information about vocational options.
- Parents should increase their own knowledge about occupations which exist within the Canadian job market. Information regarding all occupations which exist in Canada is available on the Human Resources Development Canada website (www.hrsdc.gc.ca).
- Parents should be supportive. It is important to recognize each child’s individual vocational needs/interests. Encourage exploration of areas of interest. Parents should avoid placing pressure on their children to make career decisions before they are ready to do so.
- Parents should encourage their children to begin thinking about career options early, as their career goals may affect the type of courses they are required to take in high school or university.
- Consider arranging for your child to attend career counselling. Career counselling services are available through school guidance counsellors, career development centers or privately.
All parents want the best for their children. It can be difficult for a parent to watch their child struggle to make career decisions. Encouraging self exploration and providing non-conditional support can make the decision making process easier for your child.