IT'S OUR TEENS' CHOICE!
by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC
Yesterday we went to the movies and saw a great film called, 'The Identical'. It was set during the Depression when parents had hardly enough food to feed their children let alone themselves. The couple in the story had identical twin boys and they gave one boy away to a preacher and his wife who couldn't have children. The preacher was absolutely determined that his new son would grow up to be a preacher just like him, but the boy had other ideas. It very nearly ruined their relationship.
At what point do we allow our kids to make up their own minds about their careers in life? This can be a very difficult question as there are so many factors that come into play. Of course, we want our kids to be the best that they can be, but that is the crux of the matter. They shouldn't feel they have to become the best WE wanted to be, or the best we want them to be so that WE can proudly say e.g. "My son, the Doctor."
Can we trust our teens to make the right decisions regarding their futures? That depends entirely on whether they have proven they can make wise choices up to that point in their lives. For them to learn to make great choices, we have to first of all teach them how and then give them responsibilities so they learn, not only to make the right choices, but also to experience the consequences of poor choices.
During their lives up to their mid teens, we need to expose our kids to all sorts of activities to see what they really love and excel in doing. If their favorite activities are not initially going to bring them a living wage, as we see it, then of course we talk to them about getting some kind of qualification that will serve them well until they can do 'that thing' they want so desperately to do all the time!
Many parents in the USA start saving for their kids' college/university fees almost from the time they are born. It puts a very heavy burden on a child to know that, not only are they expected to go to University, but also, since their parents paid for it, some parents may feel they have a right to dictate the course their child should take. Other parents don't seem to care what their kids study, as long as they go to college and come out the other end with some certificate, whether it will result in any kind of living wage or not.
I read a great article by Verity Johnson, an 18 year-old student writer for the New Zealand Herald who made some great points. (Source at the end of this article)
"There is an issue with parents thinking they know best. It runs dangerously close to assuming parents can still think for their teenagers. There comes an age when teenagers realize that they are independent people. At this age, the most helpful, and prudent, thing is for parents to offer advice, not ultimatums."
In reality, there is a fine line between kids being encouraged to do what makes them happy and earning enough to make their own way. There is a great deal of help being offered at schools and on-line regarding careers. We can encourage our kids to explore all the things that ring their bells, match that with their aptitude and guide them (not push them) into a career that will support them away from home. If we don't succeed on this path, we will find them living at home for much longer than we anticipated. I am giving Verity Johnson the last word.
We've (teens) always been told we can do what we want to do, not what
everyone else says we should do. Now it's time to help us put the
rhetoric into reality.
If you have any questions or comments on this subject, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out our website at www.forefrontfamilies,org and our blogsite articles at www.forefrontfamilies.blogspot.com
Source for Verity Johnson article: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10829277