Parenting is tough from day 1. But even when you are preparing to let your son or daughter spread their wings and make their own way in life, there are still a number of challenges to be faced. And this includes helping them make their way on the career ladder.
In the early days of being a parent the rule goes that you have more knowledge of the world and it is your responsibility to pass on your pearls of wisdom to assist in their education. Yet as those children grow up and acquire knowledge from school, clubs and the wider world, it can be difficult to continue to support them in the way you would like.
Once your child gets into their teenage years and begins to think about their career ahead, this can become even harder. After all, if their passion lies in architecture and you work as an accountant, how can you be expected to guide them effectively?
Just be supportive
The first thing any parent needs to be aware of during this tricky time is that your role as a parent becomes one of support rather than that of a teacher. Simply being there and acting as a sounding board is often the best way to be, rather than trying to tell them how you would have done things.
Assuming that your child wants to continue on to higher education, you will need to consider to what extent you can and should support them in financial terms. It can be intensely frustrating as a parent when your child does not know what they want to do yet simply want to head off to university for the “experience”. While there’s no guarantee that their decisions will be made any time soon, this is where you as a parent can begin to provide them with options and help them to work towards their own conclusion.
Get them to open days
Open days are incredible opportunities for both you and your son or daughter to get a feel for university life and for the degree courses that may lie ahead of them. While your teenager may learn a lot from an open day it is also an opportunity for you to learn more about their options for the future and gain an understanding in industries and disciplines that you may have no experience of.
Avoid wasting open day opportunities by taking the time to ask as many questions as possible. Never leave with concerns playing on your mind.
Ask them questions and listen to the answers
The aim of questioning should not be to interrogate your son or daughter. Instead you should take the time to have an open and fun discussion to help provoke their own thoughts. As a sounding board you need to challenge them to think independently but then listen to the answers as they work through their future in their own minds.
Give them a taste of things to come
If your son or daughter is keen to get a real flavour of what university life could look like, then you may wish to explore the option of a summer school. For example, if they are keen to explore the possibility of becoming an architect, why not enrol them on the Cambridge Architecture Summer School from Cambridge Immerse. This two-week introduction to life as an architecture student allows them to get an insight into the kinds of modules and teaching methods applied at university, as well as taking part in the kinds of activities that will be available once they head off to higher education.
Above all, your role as a parent is to be a calming influence and an anchoring point during one of the most stressful periods of time in your child’s life. With exams in front of them and plenty of uncertainty, it will be your job to stay calm and let them know that you are there for them regardless of what happens next.