In March 2019, I conducted 21 interviews with parents across the USA and Canada to learn more about how they helped their teens make plans for their lives after high school. The interviews were fascinating; I enjoyed listening to parents' candid answers about their hopes and dreams for their kids, their struggles and their advice for other parents.
This post will describe what I learned from these interviews, as well as the quotes parents shared throughout. I'll start with parents' greatest hopes and concerns for their teens, and then I will share the 7 pain-points they identified in parent/teen career conversations.
I hope you will find these insights useful and that you will share them with other parents of teenagers and young adults. Please feel free to share your thoughts on what we got right and what we missed in the comments section.
Greatest Hope for Teen
First off, many parents shared that their greatest hope for their teen was for them to be happy. Some parents also mentioned that they wanted kids to find their joy, or something to be passionate about.
‘All I want is for him to have the opportunity to achieve his dreams, whatever they may be.’
Greatest Concern for Teen
When asked about their greatest concern when it came to their teens, parents first recognized the pains that many of the teens were feeling: anxiety, fear, tears, strong fear of failure, etc.
‘I think the emotional process has been difficult for her.’
Another concern that parents shared was how their teens should balance money and security with passion. In essence, most parents were looking to encourage their kids interests, while helping them paint a realistic picture of future outcomes.
‘I hope they will be able to make a living doing it.’
7 pain-points in parent/teen career conversations
1. Talking about a teen's future can be a challenging conversation.
Even though teens have a lot to look forward to, many of them are feeling stressed out and anxious about their decisions. This can make a career conversation a challenging conversation.
2. Most parents are disappointed in the services that schools are offering.
3. Many teens are lacking the maturity or preparedness required to make education and career decision.
4. Communication issues between parents and students can create tension in their relationship.
5. Teens and parents have biases that impact how they approach the conversation.
A part of being a young adult is starting to carve your own path. For teens, this can manifest itself through the need to distance themselves from your parents. This need makes it more difficult for them to work with parents to help them make career decisions.
On the parents side, biases can impact their advice when they overrely on certain factors, such as: what made them successful, their personal experiences in the workplace, and their hopes and dreams for their kids.
6. Parents are striving to take a 'balanced' role in the process.
‘Rescuing feels great in the moment, but in the long run it won’t be advantageous.’
‘It’s an extreme exercise in self-management.’
‘There is a risk of offending them. How do I gently say they might not be suited for that? I just want to be encouraging.’
7. Parents have a greater understanding of the financial implications of teen's career decisions.
While teens understand the concepts of tuition fees, student debt and starting salaries, parents have a more concrete understanding of how much an education costs and the impact it can have one one's career. Further, many parents are asking themselves how they want to support their kids moving forward, and for how long.
I hope you found these insights useful and will share them with other parents of teenagers and young adults. I would like to extend a big thank you to the parents who shared their stories with me. Your words will surely have an impact on other parents who are in a similar position.
Is your teenager stuck?
You both know that they have great potential, but they haven't found the right outlet yet. When it comes to their plans for the future, they don't know where to start. Perhaps this has already cause them frustration, or even some stress and anxiety.
They have tried online research, quizzes and other services, yet they still feel 'lost.' At this point, instead of taking action, they are stalling. Unfortunately, they may have forgotten that the world needs them. They may no longer see a path towards happiness and fulfillment. It is becoming difficult for them to imagine a way forward.
My online, interactive course shows an easier way: a step-by-step process for teens to discover who they are, the impact they want to have on the world and the education program that will get them there. To learn more, visit the course registration page and help them start creating an exciting future.