“don’t Study That Degree!”

Five things you should do before you panic over the vocation your child has chosen.

All parents enjoy children developing talents and abilities. We like them to excel in sports, to play a musical instrument, to paint pictures or to have peculiar approaches to life. We show them off with a smile and, as their talents grow, we become more and more proud. But when it comes to talking about the plans and dreams they have to earn a living, we fear that they will say: “I am going to study piano”, “I want to be a fashion designer”, “I will be a filmmaker”, “I am going to dedicate myself to sculpture”, “I will be a professional athlete” and “I will study philosophy or history.

In most cases, parents consider that these activities are not real professions, or imply high risks for the financial security of their children and not to appear taxing, they adopt a classic position: “If you want, first study a real career , and then you do what you want ”. On this page there is a guide on how to choose a career.

In high school I was part of a youth orchestra. I remember the case of a friend, whom I will call Emma. She was brilliant at her instrument and her parents had enrolled her in formal music courses, which she could pursue until she turned pro. But it was not like that, because they convinced her that music was not a “safe” profession, so that she should first pursue a “serious” profession. But Emma is not the only one. And I often hear from friends who lacked the moral support to follow their vocation; that in their adulthood they continue to struggle for their financial stability or that they abandoned their “serious” studies because they did not feel fit.

We all want the best for our children, and I have discovered that these positions result more from our lack of information and prejudices than from real dangers. You’d be surprised how many people are financially and emotionally stable in professions that often carry some social stigma. Recent research on career guidance says that knowing how to recognize our children’s inclinations to different aspects of knowledge and jobs can help ensure their success in all aspects of life.

Before you enter into a conflict with your child regarding the profession he wants to pursue, when he tells you about a career that you do not know or that causes you concern, you must take the zero step : do an impartial investigation on what your son wants to study :

  • What is that profession about? Many times the title or name of the profession does not provide guidance on the topics or activities that are dealt with in training and work. A title like “Sports Commentator” may scare us, but we would find it less threatening if we found out that becoming a sports journalist requires studying a career related to communication.
  • Open your mindset. Don’t seek to confirm your fears. Do not base your opinion on examples of people who failed or who set bad examples: incompetent doctors, engineers without prestige, unemployed lawyers, mediocre accountants and poorly paid administrators abound. Find out about success stories and try to find out what those stories have in common with your child’s life.
  • Make sure your child knows what he is looking for. For example, many young women enroll in pedagogy careers believing that they will graduate as educators to work in classrooms with young children, and, in reality, pedagogy is a theoretical-social discipline more of an office than of classrooms.

Once you are well informed, follow these simple steps that will reassure you and your child, letting them know that you are on their side and that you care about their true well-being:

  1. Help him make a life plan. Ask him to talk to you about how he sees himself in the future. Knowing what kind of adult, citizen, and even elder we want to be helps determine if our profession will lead us to meet those expectations.
  2. Let him choose what he likes best. We spend eight or more hours a day in the activity with which we earn a living. It is reasonable and fair to claim the right to decide what we want to do. If your child studies and works on what he likes, he will do it with greater dedication and will better withstand obstacles.
  3. Having a lot of money is not the most important thing. Teach your child that there are no easy races. No matter what profession he decides to pursue, help him understand that he will have to be disciplined, dedicated, and make sacrifices to achieve his goals; This will guarantee you to be one of the best in your profession and will allow you to be successful and financially stable.
  4. Give your approval. Once he has decided, let him know that you trust him and become his main ally. Many give up their vocation because they feel that they would betray their parents if they followed it; and many others have gone after their dreams with feelings of guilt for ignoring the advice of their parents. Neither of those two thorns should be stuck in your child’s heart. Everything will be better if he knows that he has your approval.
  5. Support it. Just like you did when he sang at school festivals, stay close to him and present all his accomplishments. Get involved with his profession and comfort him when the hard times come (because they will come). In this link you will find information about it.

As you live your child’s career adventure up close, you will be surprised how wonderful it is, and you will know that you had a lot to do with his success.

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