by Gretchen Boehm, MS, LPC, NCC
The New Year is finally upon us! I’m sure most of you have your resolutions lined up already: lead a healthier lifestyle, limit overindulging and create more constructive time. Whatever the resolution may be, I’m sure the road is paved with good intentions.
The population I think about the most at the beginning of the calendar year are the high school students (especially the Juniors and Seniors). This is a VERY critical time for them. Think about it. Society places pressure upon these young people to decide what they want to do for the rest of their lives.
If most of the caregivers out there don’t trust their teenager to be by themselves when they go out of town…how does it make sense to delegate such an adult decision-making task to these young minds?
It doesn’t make any sense at all. Remember our new year resolutions…paved with good intentions. Realistically, our “self-discipline” (as adults) gets the best of us. We cave and revert back to our habits we know all too well. Very few of us can stick to new habits we enforce on an individual level. If we, as adults, require structure and support in creating new lifestyles, it is imperative we provide the same to our adolescents.
I believe too many caregivers are under the impression that, “the school will take care of this.” I also believe the schools place much faith in the caregivers to foster career development. Where does that leave our young pioneers?? It is unfortunate to announce that most are left empty-handed.
Interventions: What can we do?
- The most influential people available to our adolescents are you, the caregivers. Please take the time and have countless discussions about your child’s field of interest(s). Push them to expand their tunnel vision and see the forest beyond the trees. Most of the time, adolescents have a skewed perception of what a particular job entails. Help them mold accurate points of view and take this journey WITH them. Try to make this fun and interesting. Trust me, your child knows how important this is and probably feels overwhelmed already. If you add any more pressure, they may resort to feeling defeated and not even try.
- Expose them to what they like, enjoy, and have interests in. You don’t have to wait for a school to structure an internship, set it up yourself. Your child may feel intimidated by this process, be with them step-by-step. Set up a job shadowing opportunity. Most places of business can accommodate this. Together, make the initial contacts, set up a time to meet, and then schedule a shadowing opportunity from there. As long as you provide room for your child to test the waters out with you, confidence will begin to bloom.
- Visit with schools early and research Majors of study TOGETHER. Some adolescents today may have an idea of what they would like to do, however, are they informed of what that career really means. Research annual salaries, entry-level positions and what it takes to move up the ladder of success. Most adults work in a field unrelated to what they studied in college. Assist your child in understanding the overall budget of their career and if it is a realistic choice.
Caregivers of the Greater Pittsburgh Area and beyond: FOSTER CAREER DEVELOPMENT WITH YOUR CHILDREN. I am the first to encourage independence and responsible behavior. Your children need your guidance with this process. If your children seem to be procrastinating in this area, it is most likely due to ignorance and fear. The more you team up with them, the less likely they will ignore this area of development.
With the appropriate support and guidance, your young adults will prove to be successful assets to society. This holds true with our personal resolutions as well. Seek out support, guidance and work on them TOGETHER with others. This way, the road paved with good intentions will become a prosperous reality.