Updated: Feb 22, 2019
(This blog post was originally written in 2014)
According to Bardick and Bernes (2005), many factors shape the career aspirations and motivations of youth and adolescents. Among the factors of “gender… socioeconomic status, and early school experiences,” parental influence has a substantial impact on their career decisions (p.1). This fact raises an important question: how can parents help their teenage children make wise career choices? If you are a parent, there are three steps you can take to be a positive influence.
1. Be a Good Model
Whether you realize it or not, you are a living model to your children of which career aspirations and motivations are worthy of consideration. Because you hold such sway, it is especially important for you not to create “external conflicts” by unintentionally imposing your own aspirations onto your children (Gati, Krausz, & Osipow, 1996). To curb this, encourage them to explore interests outside of your chosen profession. Also, give them permission to explore a broad range of interests early on, to prevent them from feeling restricted in their options too soon (Bardick & Bernes, 2005, p.5).
You are a living model to your children of which career aspirations and motivations are worthy of consideration.
2. Fill in the Gaps
Parents can benefit from studying the curriculum of their local school board so that they can fill in any gaps they become aware of. Regarding gaps, consider the fact that the Toronto District School Board only mandates one Career Studies course for its secondary school students. The course instructors usually lack training in the career development field, the course itself has a 15% failure rate, and it only lasts for 9 weeks – making it hard for students to learn the material adequately (OME, 2011; Personal Interview, July 3rd, 2012). Admittedly, there are supplementary classes in the curriculum which remedy some of the gaps in the Career Studies course, but they are not mandatory (OME, 2011; Personal Interview, Jul 3rd 2012).
Thus, it is crucial for parents to encourage their kids to take full advantage of the non-mandatory career development opportunities afforded by their secondary school curriculum. Parents can recommend taking supplementary classes and/or enrolling in specialized programs that suit their kids’ interests, such as the Specialized High Skills Major (SHSM), Advanced Placement, and Co-operative Education. These programs enable students to earn college level credits, conduct job shadows, and receive on-site training (OME, 2006, pp.19-24; OME, 2010, sec. A1).
Encourage your kids to take full advantage of the non-mandatory career development opportunities afforded by their secondary school curriculum.
3. Use Extra-Curricular Resources
Parents can also assist their children by directing them to extra-curricular resources for career development. Why is this important? Because most of the non-mandatory high school programs like SHSM or Co-op only place students in job environments that reflect their career interests at that time (OME, 2010, sec. A1; YRDSB, 2011, p1). They do not focus on teaching students how to cope when their interests change – as they often will! To help your children navigate new interests and job transitions, refer them to youth-oriented career centers or professional career coaches for assistance. It is definitely worth the investment.
Bardick, A., Bernes, K. (2005). Occupational Aspirations of Students in Grades Seven to Twelve. Retrieved on May 25th, 2013, from: http://bit.ly/1yxe6NX
Gati, I., Krausz, M., Osipow, S. (1996). A Taxonomy of Difficulties in Career Decision Making.Retrieved on May 25th, 2013, from: http://bit.ly/1ayMr3I
Ontario Ministry of Education. (2006) Opening Doors: You and the Job Market. Retrieved on May 25th, 2013, from: http://bit.ly/1DKjhu8
Ontario Ministry of Education. (2011) The Ontario Curriculum: Grades 9-12. Retrieved on May 25th, 2013, from: http://bit.ly/1yxfYpZ
Ontario Ministry of Education (2010). Specialized High Skills Major: Policy and Implementation. Retrieved on May 25th, 2013, from: http://bit.ly/1EJT0gg
Personal Interview. Anonymous Guidance Instructor for the TDSB. July 3rd, 2012.
York Region District School Board (YRDSB) (2011). How to Plan for SHSM. Retrieved on May 25th, 2013, from: http://bit.ly/1HvX1pp