Disagreements between parents and their children are common when it comes to making career decisions. Sometimes, these conflicts get resolved quickly but sometimes, they may take longer than usual. As a career counsellor, you may come across both situations. You just need to understand both sides, know how to resolve conflict between them, and come up with the best possible solution.
Highlights of the Article
Parent-Child Conflict While Career Counselling is Normal
Parents play an important and significant role in establishing their children’s careers. Having already gone through the process of career decision making, parents help their children to select the right career path. But sometimes, parents start behaving like influencers, not facilitators. They start taking control of making decisions for their child’s career. Hence, children start thinking that their parents are interrupting their career decisions and are not letting them make a decision. This is how conflict starts building between them.
It also happens when children do not understand their parents’ conditions (majorly financial) and demand to opt for such career options that are hard to afford for parents.
Whatever the reason be, experiencing conflicts between parents and children is more common than you may think. As a career counsellor, you don’t need to be worried about this situation. If handled properly, these conflicts don’t turn into long-term problematic patterns. You need to listen to both parties, understand their requirements, and create a win-win situation for both sides.
Common Causes for Conflict Between Parents & Children
The first step to resolve a parent-children conflict is to understand the problem. You cannot jump to a conclusion before analyzing an entire situation. These conflicts can happen due to parents or children or both.
Let us understand the reasons for conflicts between parents and children during career counselling.
Parents Expectations: Parents usually have high academic and career expectations from their children. While some children can live up to these expectations, some can’t. Suppose a child wants to opt for a field of study that he is interested in, but a parent has a totally different goal for him. A child wants to be a graphic designer; his parents want him to become a doctor. A child wants to choose Political Science; his parents want him to study Mathematics. This clash happens in the majority of cases.
In many cases, parents don’t understand their kid’s abilities & interests and start forcing them to do what they like.
Lack of knowledge of new career options is also a major issue for parent-child conflict. Majority of parents are unaware of new career opportunities and their scope. When their children ask to choose a particular career path that is unknown to them, they refuse to agree. That leads to a conflict.
Children’s Persistence: Sometimes, children ask to choose a career path that their parents can’t afford (monetary ones). They want to go abroad for higher studies or want to opt for a course that is out of their parents’ budget. This is the case of children’s persistence where they don’t want to understand their parents’ situation and ask for more.
How to Resolve Conflict?
Differences of opinion are basic healthy conflicts between parents and children. As a career counsellor, you can easily handle them by following these tips:
Understand Both Sides
If you want to know how to resolve conflict between parents and children while counselling them, become neutral. Don’t conclude anything before understanding the entire situation. Listen to both sides carefully. Encourage them to express how they feel about career decisions. Understand
What are their requirements?
What are children’s interest areas?
What do parents expect from their children? etc.
Allow them to express. Don’t counter their expression. Once both sides are done, use this interaction as an opportunity to help them, counsel them and make them understand each other’s perspectives.
Explain, Career is More than a Financial Security
In the past, just having a job and being able to support oneself and one’s family was essential. People often used to choose the same profession as their father. A farmer’s son used to become a farmer. A doctor’s son used to become a doctor. Very few people used to go for a different career choice.
However, today, we have plenty of career choices. A career is no longer just a means of financial support; it has become a major part of one’s life. People go for a job that they love and enjoy doing.
Let parents know about this. Make them understand that new career opportunities are secure and their children would earn and enjoy the job at the same time.
Communication is the Key
When a parent-child relationship reaches a point where neither parent nor child leaves the situation as a “winner”, take a step back and reassess goals.
Communication is proven to be an effective therapy in helping parents and children to resolve their clashes. Make them talk to each other and express their thoughts. Figure out what’s going on in their minds and develop healthier ways to choose a career path for their child.
Find a Middle Ground
Finding a middle ground is like partial satisfaction when both parties agree on a common point. It is a collaborative approach where issues are discussed, a range of solutions are discovered that fulfil the needs of everyone.
Analyze the entire profile of the child. Conduct psychometric tests to determine a child’s personality, interests, assess his/her aptitude ability, and more. Form a report and propose solutions that are agreeable to both.
Expert Advice on How to Resolve Conflict Between Parents & Children
Understanding a situation becomes easier when you see real-life examples. For your assistance, we asked this question, “How to resolve conflict between parents & children” to some of the renowned career counsellors. Take a look at how they handle this situation while their counselling sessions:
In Ms. Bedi’s Words, “Being an advisory member, you are in the middle-ground between a “ helicopter parent” and a student during this exciting time for a high schooler.
Admission time is a crucial period for students and I make sure that parents and children should decide together on a career their children would pursue.
I ask students to get information about the latest trends while parents get their practical experience to the table to make a decision. Be mindful that parents are much more experienced than children. They have seen the world better than their kids. Thus, their decision would be better and correct and at the same time.
Reduce pressure on children, motivate parents to guide their kids to make a good decisions by discovering their behavioural strengths and exploring various exciting careers. Use the 5-second rule when you need to shift gears, take action or re-establish role clarity (both ways)”.
In Dr. Dutta’s Words, “When parents choose careers for their children they often tend to miss out emotional, psychological, social or spiritual rewards, and focus only on monetary ones. Whatever be the reason, conflicts between parents and children are mainly due to subjective motives and are not fact-driven. I have seen usually career-choices related conflicts between parents and children get resolved when they are asked to justify their preferences based on objective parameters.
Ask them questions based on documentary evidence like future trends, past performance records and scientific information like Psychometric tests etc. It often proves to be an eye-opener and resolve conflict automatically.
A career counsellor should not only see situations from the perspective of both parties but also try to reveal parent’s and child’s perspectives to each other to dissolve the “Ego Component”. Then, individual sessions with parents and children followed by a joint session to work out objective components of career selection help to strike a healthy balance between monetary goals ( parents perspective) and passion for a career (children’s perspective).
Explain to parents that every individual is responsible for his /her own life and for choices they make in their lives. Parents can only suggest to their child about career choices; the final decision should be taken by the child only”.
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