I am an older mom who is busy supporting a family and working as an ICU nurse.  I don’t want my daughter to repeat my lifetime of mistakes.  She is bright about many things but in school I feel she is an underachiever and does just enough to get by.  I have had many financial setbacks.  I lost my home, lived with in-laws and now live in a house that was a fixer-uper and I was never able to do the fixing up. I could go on and on. But enough about me.

How do I guide my teen to choose a career path that will be suitable for their abilities and potential. I have depleted all my savings just keeping the family going so its going to be a community college to start out.  She is 16 and very responsible.  She has had three jobs in three months. Now she’s working at her third, job as restaurant hostess.  How do I be the guidance counsellor, where do I start?

4 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    Give her self-confidence in her ability to steer herself, and give her the ability to fail without repercussions. Give her a place to come home to if she’s stuck. It doesn’t need to be a nice house, it needs to have a nice mom.

    It will take her until she’s 27 to figure things out — and that’s if she’s fast. So set her expectations — that this is an exploring phase and successful people take time to be lost and explore.

    Here is a post about what people should teach kids so they have successful careers:
    http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2003/08/26/3-things-to-teach-your-kids-so-they-succeed-in-life/

    Penelope

  2. Jennifer Soodek
    Jennifer Soodek says:

    There are many assessment tools available that help students identify their interests and personality type. (The Strong Interest Inventory, and the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator). The combination of these assessments provides students with lists of potential career paths and college majors all based on their own personal interests. This information can then help the student and guide them to purse fields that will interest them. They can research the potential earning and employment possibilities and determine if it is a realistic choice. A little bit of time spent researching and gaining personal insight can provide long lasting benefits. I have worked with lots of students just like your daughter and they have really enjoyed learning about themselves and using the information to guide them on their educational path and career journey. Let me know if I can help. It is fun for the student, they love learning about themselves!

  3. Will King
    Will King says:

    The best you can hope for is that she doesn’t repeat your mistakes, rather she makes all her own new ones!
    Being a smart kid is actually a handicap – If you have no challenges in your life, it makes it harder to succeed later!
    Don’t ever use that word “potential” – it becomes a dirty word, synonymous with “you’re not living the life I charted out for you” as well as “you disappoint me”.
    I disagree with Penelope on one aspect – failure should have consequences. Without a certain level of adversity, people don’t improve – it works in several ways, it reinforces their self confidence – they have handled adversity in the past, and can survive what life dishes out. It also puts things into perspective – things that seem earth-shattering in your youth aren’t so life altering when you get older and more experienced.
    There’s got to be a balance – “I’m here to make help if you have no other way out – but I’m also counting on you to learn to solve your own problems, too!”
    As to her figuring things out? I’m 40, I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up!

  4. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    Include as part of your guidance to your teen plenty of time to listen to her. Listening will go a long ways and sometimes that will be all she wants – to be heard. Offer advice as necessary and when she asks for it.

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