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Careers. Who gets to choose? Parents or Kids?

As parents, we want the best for our kids. For many parents, one way to define best is seeing their kids achieve financial success. There is no typecasting or judgment here. This is a valid need. We all know how hard it is to live without financial security. Hence, the importance of financial success is not lost on anyone. As a result, a huge part of parenting revolves around equipping kids to develop skills that can help them achieve high-paying careers. Let us get into excavation mode and understand how this strong need plays out in day-to-day parenting. 

To start our investigation, let us ask ourselves, “what is our real goal as parents?”. We all want our kids to lead happy, fulfilled lives. I don’t think any parent would disagree with me on this. 

And as parents, we consider financial success as a means to help our kids become happy adults. No wonder parents want to guide their kids in choosing desirable careers. 

A survey by joblist that interviewed working people and parents found that 40 percent of working people felt pressured to follow their parents' career advice, while 2 out of 3 parents said they were disappointed when their children didn't pursue their desired careers. So let us see why many parents, despite their best intentions, end up feeling misunderstood by their kids and why their kids feel unsupported in their career choices.

Parent’s have abundant life and career experiences to guide their kids in their major decisions. Still, an inability to express their best intentions to kids without using control is at the core of parent-child disconnection. The truth is that a collaborative relationship between a parent and child allows parents to share their life experiences and be open to their child’s emerging interests and strengths. Parents learn from their kids so they can best support them. Then what stops parents from building that great relationship with their kids? 

Unfortunately, it is how we are all conditioned to parent, it’s the format that favors ‘correction’ over ‘connection.’ Parents try to correct their kids instead of trying to connect with them first. This is how most of us were raised, it’s the traditional way of parenting, a style that has been carried out for many generations! 

In traditional parenting, obedience is seen as respect. And obedience is often extracted through undesirable means (shame, threat, yelling, comparison, nagging, sarcasm, etc.). Previous generations have considered following rules and complying with authority as a way to survive. We end up repeating the same cycles because that is what is familiar to us. Moreover, while complying, one cannot be creative or courageous. And in today’s age, success comes from collaboration, innovation, and courage, not compliance!  

And if you do attempt to be aware of some of the conditioning patterns and don a new face to parent differently, you are quickly caught in the ‘scarcity’ trap, which is another facet of traditional parenting. The scarcity mindset is the belief that there isn’t much to go around and only a few can succeed. So naturally, this mindset breeds competition and comparison leading kids to feel unsafe and anxious around parents and corroding their trust in their parents. 

Research in the last two decades from neuroscience and child development can show the drawbacks of traditional controlling parenting. Any parental consequence that affects a child’s self-worth or self-esteem, even if it's not harsh, leads to kids’ non-compliance with parents, along with many negative effects the child experiences, such as depressive feelings, behavior problems, and poor conscience development, decapacitating them from making sound decisions. 

Our kids need us to be their safe harbor, their guide so that they can navigate the complexities of life and make sound decisions for themselves, including career decisions that will dictate the direction and quality of their life. So it is upon us as parents to transform the way we parent, making our kids feel seen, loved, and empowered by moving away from the traditional controlling style to a transformational peaceful style of parenting. Because… if we can’t provide it to them, who will?

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