When does parental career advice really kick in?

parental career advice

Parental career advice

As we come into the high school and college graduation period, we are going to see a steady stream of suggestions on how parents can support their kids getting into a career structure and the best ways of delivering parental career advice. Not too much or too little. We will be overwhelmed by tips about the ratio of candidates to open positions in graduate intake schemes (Johnson & Johnson receives more than 180,000 applications each year for the approximately 720 positions.) We will worry about their futures.

For high school graduates, we will be looking at colleges which give our sons and daughters the best springboard for a life of “fulfilment” and “happiness.”  Most of us forget that we have sealed the fate of our children and their future careers from an early age. Long before they have donned a pencil skirt or a business suit we have unwittingly channelled them into ways of thinking and acting which will determine their career choices.

Your parental career advice though well-intentioned, is probably 20 years too late.

 3 videos that illustrate how we unknowingly direct the future careers of our children.

#1 Don’t over protect your daughter

This can be from falling over, getting dirty or doing math. From the earliest age parents may discourage girls from taking risks and underestimate the abilities of their daughters. Adults tend to be quicker to intervene when they think that little girls are doing something  that is potentially dangerous or “risky.” But encouraging them to take reasonable risks gives them confidence and helps them grow and thrive.

#2 Encourage your son to communicate expressively

Boys have the ability to master verbal and literacy skills, but frequently underperform compared to girls. Parents can is counter this stereotypical trend that reading and communicating is not a “boy” thing and encourage them to leave the video game handset on the sofa  – the earlier this happens, the better. Encouraging them to read and spend more time on homework will also help them.

#3 Counter balance gender traps

The world of raising children is riddled with gender traps. Even the heroes and heroines of our favourite movies and books are peppered with subliminal messages. Make sure you know what they are.  Read:  Monitoring who speaks most.  So, as early as possible, involve your daughters in science and math, to develop their interest in activities promote motor and spatial skills  – not just caring, or collaborative skills. 

Make sure your sons  have good exposure to activities that involve caring for people,  whether young children or the elderly.  From 5 years onwards, boys start to think of child care as a “mommy thing.”  Very often their empathy and nurturing abilities are directed towards looking after a pet. It’s important to be practical role models and lead by example. If children see Mom and Dad operating according to traditional gender roles, then it’s going to be hard for your children not to be influenced by that scenario.

Parental career advice starts way before college applications start or entry-level interviews are being held. We are just not aware of it and we should be.

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