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What Role Does a Parent Play in Their Teenager’s Future?

By Vanessa, published on 27/08/2019 We Love Prof > Professional Development > Personal Development > How to Help Your Teenager with Their Career

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker

A lot of teenagers believe that their parents’ opinions are important when it comes to choosing what they study at A Level. Many also feel that it’s important to have parental support. However, parents don’t always know exactly how to help and guide their child. Whether they’re in secondary school, sixth form, or college, students need to feel supported by their parents without feeling that their parents are deciding for them.

So what role does a parent play in their teenager’s future?

In this article, we’ve got some advice for parents on how to help their kids and teens make decisions about their future and the role they play in their futures.

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A Parent’s Role in Educational Guidance: Communication

The main role of parents when it comes to guiding their child in terms of their academic and professional choices is to establish a dialogue and listen.

How can you communicate with teenagers? While speaking to teens isn’t always easy, you need to communicate with them. (Source: 1041483)

Adolescence can be difficult and teenagers need to feel free to express what they want, what they like, and what they struggle with without feeling judged by their parents. They need to establish a relationship of trust during their teen years.

Parents often think that guidance means academic success by the time they’re finished at school, that some careers are too risky, and a career in the arts is a waste of time. There are no opportunities, you won’t earn a living, etc… However, it’s important to keep in mind that a parent’s professional ambitions won’t be the same as their child’s. Don’t become a stereotype. Not every student needs to become a doctor, lawyer, or engineer.

Listen to what your child wants to do and what they’re worried about. Make sure that they feel comfortable opening up to you, which they mightn’t be keen on doing during puberty. They’re also developing outside of the family and they may be very different to you.

To understand who they are, you need to listen to them carefully. You’ll learn important information about what your child likes, what they good at, and what they believe. Work with your child’s strengths: good results, confident speaker, sociable, teamwork, etc.

Avoid focusing on their weaknesses and let their strengths guide them. Additionally, you could avoid a tantrum, which is always a bonus. You don’t want to be overly authoritative with a defiant teen as this could cause them to act out and make some bad decisions be it in terms of their career, truancy, drugs and alcohol, or sexual activity. Of course, you can’t be uninvolved either. You may occasionally have to discipline your child and set some family rules, but the important thing is to first communicate. You’d be surprised at what good communication can do for family dynamics.

Communication also extends to creating a dialogue with their teachers so you know what they’re struggling with. Teachers can help you understand what your child may need help with outside of school.

Find out more about how you can help your child with career choices.

Supporting Your Child’s Choices

As a parent, you’ll probably expect a lot from your children. This may result in you not recognising how hard they work every day and blaming them when they don’t get perfect grades. For teens, this can seem very disrespectful. Work on how to talk to them.

How can you support your teenager's choice? No matter what they decide to do, you need to be supportive. (Source: Komsomolec)

However, positive reinforcement can do wonders for their motivation and self-confidence. Don’t just praise them for nothing, focus on good exam results, positive feedback from their teachers, extra-curricular achievements, etc.

A confident teenager will feel better and be more comfortable when it comes to making choices. Everyone needs recognition for their hard work and teenagers even more so as they’re still developing their personality. Highlight how their behaviour and how hard work results in success. They’ll grow in confidence and feel more capable of choosing what they want to do.

When helping your children with their futures, make sure you avoid these mistakes.

Educational Guidance for Parents: Encouragement

It can be difficult for parents and their teenage children to choose what they want to do in life. It’s worrying when a parent hears their teenager say “I don’t know what to do after school” or even worse “I don’t know what to do!”. This is why you need to start thinking about it as soon as possible so that you don’t end up with a lost teenager who doesn’t know if they want to study A Levels, go to uni, or do something more vocational.

Both parties need to take responsibility:

  • The teenager needs to show that they’re interested in their future: they’re the master of their destiny and it’s their decision and up to them to do the research about it.
  • Parents need to be patient, trusting and show that they’re there when their child needs help. Thinking about their future can take time and adults need to be there to reassure the teenager and let them know that they will work out what they want to do.

Make them understand that their decisions aren’t forever. You don’t have to spend your entire life in the same business. Your child can also change jobs, careers, or even create their own business!

Choosing what they want to do is important but it’s not a permanent decision and they need to keep in mind that throughout their professional lives, they’ll change and evolve and new opportunities will come up. Remind them that they’re not choosing their career for life.

The parent-child relationship is one of the hardest to maintain during the teenage years. It might seem like just yesterday they were tweens and now they’re barreling towards adulthood. There may be temper tantrums, they may get rebellious (especially when they have to do chores), and you mightn’t know how to parent them. Remember that the teenage brain thinks differently and that we were all there once. Parenting teenagers is difficult and some parenting styles may work for some and not for others. Nobody said that raising teenagers was easy!

Find out more about the cost of educational guidance.

Helping Your Child Make Choices

While it’s essentially your child’s choice, they might need help developing and understanding their ideas. This means that they’ll need guidance as they can feel lost with all the options they have.

Help them with their research. There are many sites and services, student days, open days, and resources for helping you with covering letters, CVs, and applying to jobs.

How can you help your teenager make career decisions? With so much information available, it can be difficult making the right choice. (Source: ninocare)

Additionally, teenagers need moral support during the stressful times of their lives: results day, before presentations or interviews, and when choosing their careers.

This whole process can take time but it can also strengthen your relationship with your child. Talk to them about your experiences:

  • How did you choose?
  • How many times did you get it wrong?
  • What jobs have you done?
  • Are they related to what you studied?
  • Are you still learning?

This isn’t a subject that often comes up in family discussions. However, these discussions can strengthen the bonds so don’t hesitate to talk to your children about your experiences. It’ll help reassure them that their decisions aren’t final.

Educational Guidance as a Positive Influence

By sharing your own experience, you can positively influence your child. Of course, don’t try and put your ambitions onto your child. The final decision is theirs.

How can you positively influence your teenage child? No matter what they’re interested in, be supportive of them! (Source: KeithJJ)

Teenagers hate feeling like they’re being controlled, even when they ask for advice; this is the paradoxical role parents have to play. For example, you can’t say “I want you to become a doctor or a lawyer” or “I’ll be disappointed if you become a designer or comedian”.

It’s normal to worry about your child’s choices but you need to trust them. They know what they want or they will do with some guidance. Peer pressure is massive when you’re a teenager and a child with a good role model can go a long way. While very few kids idolise their parents during adolescence, if you can make their family life a positive experience, such as by making family meals a time where they can open up to you, both children and teenagers will appreciate the support. 

Furthermore, most parents will have gone through what their teenage child is currently going through in terms of career choices. Their concerns could form the basis of a productive discussion. Keep in mind that most of us probably had a bad temper as teenagers and the last thing we wanted was to be lectured by our parents.

If you’re struggling to have this discussion with them, a third party could help. There are career counsellors who could do an academic appraisal for your child, taking into account their skills, personality, passions, and hobbies to help guide them. This could help them to open up. It also means that you don’t need to have complicated, stressful, or tense discussions with them.

As a parent, you play an important role in your child’s life: you’re there to act as a life coach but also listen to their needs. If you need more help, you could always get in touch with a private tutor on Superprof.


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