I officially have a teenager. Not that her new behaviour trends, habits, opinions are new to me…not at all. She is 13 years old going 20 years old let me tell you this.
Kids grow up in a speedy race nowadays with access to so much from information to you name it. Before they realise it they are into teenage years and are making decisions, living anticipated experiences etc yet most can’t keep up and start crumbling when reach adulthood.
I do find myself worrying more than I wanted or anticipated about my kids’ future, the options and paths they will make and follow…and the consequences and impact in their adulthood. Is it normal?
Growing up I always made my own decisions, set my goals and followed my heart….well, I didn’t have any other option I didn’t have guidance. Now I find myself debating within myself on my own old decisions to validate whether they were appropriate and accurate before I can pass them on as advice to my kids.
Let me confide something here… Motherhood has surprised me in all levels. No one could have ever prepared me for it or I could ever imagined I would incur such a hard job…. boy, this is bloody tough. Tougher than any audit, any stakeholder or managerial duty I had to face; ever in my career.
The other day while talking to my teenager she pointed out that she will now need to make decisions on subjects in preparation for her GCSEs. Then when I asked her what she would like to pursue as profession she replied ‘I have no idea’. OMG, at her age I had to make this decision and search for information myself. Don’t forget there was no easy access to internet in the 90′! Should I tell her this? Would it discourage her and make her feel incapable? If her maturity in a lot of other areas should I expect her to know what she wants? Or this information overload and vast variety of choices have some what made her (and other teenagers) less assertive?
I like what Barry Schwartz, a psychologist, wrote in his book ‘The Paradox of Choice – Why More Is Less’ where he argues that eliminating choices can greatly reduce anxiety. He went on to quote
Autonomy and Freedom of choice are critical to our wellbeing, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don’t seem to be benefiting from it psychologically”.
So, where to begin?
I have come up with the following in my sincere attempt to help my teenager to pick her subjects for GCSEs, then A levels and finally her profession:
- How do you see your future? I.e. money driven career, not working on weekends, being a self-employed, etc. With that you can narrow down some professions.
- What’s your passion? Discover your passion and try to align it with your priorities.
- Narrow down the professions you may think you would like to follow.
- Talk to your parents or someone you trust to gauge their view in your list. Note that your passion is not negotiable and maybe people ‘don’t get it’; trust your heart.
- Consider doing a week placement in the top chosen professions. You may the help of your network and/or your parents to arrange the placements.
- If you are unsure what profession you want; try to pick generic subjects like science, maths, English etc in your A levels. Those subjects may broad your course choices. If still unsure, do a professional qualification or a diploma prior to taking a degree. In fact the professional qualification might qualify you to a Post-Graduation course i.e. MSc, MA.
- Take your time picking a career; you will spend more than at work than with your family and loved ones. You better ensure you are professionally happy prior to starting a family otherwise you will be just like MYSELF.
So roll on March 2016 when she will have to make her first ‘key decisions’ on this regard… until then I hope to be strong enough to live up to my advice set above.
Happy living xx