Teenagers (13-18)

Giving Your Kids Vision

Our children have a world of opportunity in front of them. So much so that, in fact, it can all seem confusing and intimidating to them. Some kids struggle to envision who and what they’ll become one day, and lack the optimism and self-confidence that comes with that.

You can help your child to see the future as bright, without becoming paralyzed by the options, or boxed in by others’ expectations.

Free them from your story.

Kids sometimes feel pressured to follow in their parents’ footsteps—and occasionally it’s because theyare being pressured. Make sure you’re not unintentionally trying to write your child’s life story as a simple second chapter to your own. Encourage him to explore areas of interest that you don’t share, especially if he displays a passion for it. Just because dad and granddad are lawyers, and there’s a desk down at the family firm with his name on it doesn’t mean it’s the best place for him.

Help them connect the dots.

You can help your child see the future by showing them the connection between their natural skills and potential success as an adult. For your kid who loves to build with Legos®, tell him that lots of great architects and engineers started out the same way.  Say that he might enjoy designing real buildings one day. Your daughter who loves to perform should know that there are opportunities in the arts to perform professionally or teach. Help them to daydream about doing what they love.

Be pragmatic, but in stages.

Yes, some career paths offer greater stability or income than others, but don’t use that as the sole reason to shoot down your child’s tentative dreams at an early age. As they mature, you can begin to discuss what the demands (education, work load, etc.) of a particular choice are relative to the potential returns (income, job security, enjoyment). But those hard decisions don’t have to be made in the 6th grade. Those are discussions better saved for the high school years when your child is making decisions about college and choice of major, which are often driven by future goals.

Encourage, encourage, encourage.

Some kids just aren’t hard-wired to see themselves through rose-colored glasses. They need to be reminded of the gifts they have, and the places those gifts, coupled with hard work, can take them. You can daydream out loud for them sometimes (“You know, as much as you love science, I bet you would make a great doctor or scientist. Think of the people you could help with all the stuff you know!” or “The way you like to help others, you’d make a great social worker or missionary.”)

Show an appreciation for a variety of types of work.

Some kids desperately want to please their parents, and wouldn’t choose a career path that they didn’t think their family would hold in high esteem, no matter how happy it would make them personally. Make a point of showing your children that you see value in a wide variety of career choices: people who work with their hands, professionals, artists, teachers, clergy, etc. This will open up those possibilities in the mind of a “pleaser.”

Related ResourceTurning over a New Leaf

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