Parental influence has the most powerful impact on their children’s choices, beliefs, attitudes, motivation, decision making, career development paths, and many more. Mostly they develop all these attributes unconsciously as children and teenagers absorb their parents’ attitudes and expectations.
Some of the key influencers are:
- The expectations parents have for their children’s education and career.
- The example they set for their children.
- The values and virtues parents define to their family, friends and society.
- The opportunities they create for their children to learn and develop.
- Parent-Child communication they share.
- Parent-Child relationship.
Parents have dreams and expectations from the day child came into their life. As children grow and develop their particular interests and strengths, parents tend to apply these expectations to their careers. Children fantasy, their career path during early childhood, due to influences of their environment, community, socioeconomic status, family situation, and the significant adults in their lives. For this reason, counsellors must expand the realm of career counselling to implement career decision concepts within the home and family structure.
Enlisting parents in the career counselling process becomes useful when children are torn between their desires and those of their parents. Parents are the primary forces in shaping their children’s careers, and counsellors can be of great service to their clients by involving parents, thereby helping build support for their clients outside the counselling room while at the same time helping parents and children to find common ground. This is especially important during the teenage years, especially when moving towards individuation that often confuses concerning the roles that parents can continue to play in their lives.
Overall, career counsellors will want to provide as many broad avenues as possible for students to make good career decisions.
However, parents too can provide a useful perspective regarding their children for both career counsellor and child to consider in career exploration and planning.
Despite the fact counsellors often experience the challenge of involving parents during counselling sessions. Clients who feel that their parents do not understand their ideas and who express frustration, as a result, can be encouraged by their counsellors to include their parents in career counselling sessions to clarify ways in which the adolescent and parents can work together.
Career counsellors should be encouraged to involve parents in the career decision-making process starting from the earliest years of schooling. Here is the role of a carer counsellor becomes important in educating parents and providing them with strategies and information to enable them to become more facilitative of their child’s career development.
Research also indicates that when students feel supported and loved by their parents, they have more confidence in their ability to research careers and to choose a career that would be interesting and exciting. This is important because studies show that adolescents who feel competent regarding career decision-making, tend to make more satisfying career choices later in life (Keller 2004).
Strategies While Enlisting Parents
The First Step: Increase awareness of the tremendous impact of their attitudes and comments about the subject choice, world of work, and occupational choices within that world, on their child’s career development. This can be done by conducting workshops or seminars as early as possible or from grade 7th or 8th and before 10th where career counsellors narrate parents about their influence, perhaps introducing exercises to bring into awareness parental work values and attitudes also how such attitudes will drastically affect a child’s exploration of a certain subject, profile or occupations. Through this process, career counsellors can help parents understand the messages they bring home about work (both positive & negative), and how to help their children understand the advantages of work in their lives.
The Second Step: This is to help parents work directly with their children. Research (as reported in Betz, 1994) has indicated that children discuss occupational fantasies as early as four years old. Since curiosity is a primary factor in the development of interests & interests are a primary factor in career decision-making (Super, 1990), then it is logical to suggest that encouraging a child’s natural curiosity will enhance his or her career development.
Parents as Collaborators: Parents can be employed as collaborators in the counselling process. Career counsellors often encounter clients seemingly caught in the crossfire of parents’ competing occupational aspirations for them.
It is not uncommon for a career counsellor to hear a young client complain that: “My father wants me to become a doctor, my mother wants me to become a lawyer, but I’d rather be an actor.”
Such divergent aspirations often leave clients confused about what to do. As a result and not surprisingly, adolescents often regard parents as adversaries in the career decision-making process rather than potential allies and supports (Otto, 1984).
So career counsellors need to collaborate with parents as research also indicates that when parents understand the reasons behind a specific career preparation itinerary, they may be more willing to provide their son or daughter with both much-needed concrete support and emotional encouragement necessary for career development (Middleton & Loughead, 1993).
Career Counsellors can Share a Few Tips with Parents
When parents show genuine interest and support for their adolescents‘ career plans, they must allow adolescents to discover who they are on their own. Excessive parental control regarding adolescents’ occupational decision-making results in negative outcomes. Some teenagers fear the disapproval of their parents if they pursue a career in Art/Drama/Music as opposed to a practical high-earning occupation such as law or medicine. If parents make it clear that they have no specific expectations for their child’s career, he/she will feel free to explore a greater variety of professions, choosing one based on their preferences rather than those of their parents.
In a study by Bregman and Killen (1999), it was documented that adolescents valued parental influence and guidance in the area of career choice and vocational development.
Things Parents Can Do to Help Children:
- Parents need to keep the lines of communication open and encourage their children. Parents must recognize that their role is simply to act as facilitators in their child’s career journey and allowing independent career choices marks a young person first real step into adulthood.
- Read up on the relevant courses on the website and do research. From an adult perspective, you may have some questions that your child has overlooked.
- If possible introduce your son/daughter to someone currently doing the course/working in the career area.
- Look at the list of proposed courses and find out if your son/daughter has researched each course thoroughly. Any course that has not been thoroughly researched should not be on the list.
- Have the schedule with a Guidance Counsellor and be updated about the process.
- What is the backup plan if the predicted results do not happen?
- If the school organises career talks for parents, make sure you are in attendance.
- Attend Parent/Teacher meetings.
Thus, if parents are given information about suitable career options and guided in career development and are educated about how they can help their child, the career counselling process may be enhanced.
Simple Guideline During Career Selection Process for Parents
- Be involved, but don’t impose your expectations and desires
- Create space for open communication, exchange of thoughts, ideas but don’t decide
- Support, draw lines and talk about consequences but don’t contradict
- Offer Opportunities to explore and decide
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