Parents can help teens plan for the future

Is your teen starting to decide what career they want to pursue This time can be very exciting for parents and youth.

Is your teen starting to decide what career they want to pursue?

This time can be very exciting for parents and youth.

Parents get to watch their child grow into their own and make the huge decisions that will have a big impact on their future.

This time can be very rewarding for parents as you get to see how the lessons and values you have instilled in your child have helped them become a mature young adult.

Some of you may even look forward to the freedom that you will soon have if this is one of your last children to leave home.

On the other hand, some parents may feel very anxious for a number of different reasons.

Maybe you worry that your child isn’t as equipped for the work world as they could be.

Maybe you see your child floundering a little as they try to decide what to do for the rest of their lives.

Perhaps your child is incredibly mature and you are simply thinking about what comes next, that is, moving away from home and not needing you anymore.

What can I suggest to the parents who are worried that their child soon won’t need them anymore? Well, as someone who moved back home numerous times when I was strapped for cash, I say that you never know what will happen!

There will always be the looming expenses of student loans or travel that your young adult might want some free rent with the parents to offset the cost of.

And if that doesn’t pan out, you know those care packages are always a hit! I don’t know what it is, but we all eat shamefully bad food when we move away, and many of us don’t know how to or are too lazy or busy to cook so those home cooked meals are always appreciated!

Now that you have some great things to look forward to, let’s talk about what you can do now to support them through these major life decisions. The No. 1 suggestion I have is to be a great listener and supportive of their choices.

Give advice when it is asked for, but don’t force it. By this point, let’s be honest parents, you have really drilled your ideals into our heads so now you have to let us leave the nest and see if we fly.

If you do want to get involved in the pro/con lists that are sure to ensue, whether it be regarding schools, programs, or where to work, make sure you remember to offer suggestions in a positive way. Balance out criticisms with positive comments, and always be open-minded and really listen to your teen.

If you are worried that your child plans to travel or work before they go to post-secondary, if they want to go at all, don’t panic.

This break from school can be really important and still offers a wealth of life skills. Some students that feel pushed into college or university may see lowered marks (which can harm their GPA and options down the road), instances of depression, and may even drop out.

This is a disservice to your teen and is a waste of money and may put a strain on your relationship. So don’t force it! If they really want a career that requires post-secondary education, they will get there. This is their journey now.

You have supported them along the way and now you have to let them make their own path.

Again, openness, listening and having positive conversations about these major choices will help your teen feel less overwhelmed and maintain your great relationship.

This will also help you understand their passions and realize that they are very competent and will do well at whatever they choose to pursue. Congrats parents!

You have raised a great young adult, but remember that your job is never over.

And you may want to hold off on converting their room into a workout area — you never know!

Positive Parenting appears every week in LIFE. This week’s column was written by Jessica Hartel, a project assistant with Family Services of Central Alberta. Hartel can be reached by calling 403-343-6400 or www.fsca.ca.