As another school year comes to a close, it causes me to reflect on my child’s successes and challenges throughout his first “real” grade of school. I do believe it is natural for parents to believe that their child is special and unique, and their accomplishments are exceptional. Believing in your child and nurturing their unique qualities is one of the best gifts you can give them; a fallacy which seems to occur when this parenting strategy is magnified, however, is that parents believe their children can do anything, achieve anything, and reach the stars, regardless of ability. In my opinion, it is truly a disservice to our children to not provide realistic guidance in navigating their education and future career, even when they are very young.
From a career theory perspective, children show interest in the general scope of a potential profession from a pretty early age. For example, my son has always been interested in dinosaurs, electronics, how things work, and problem solving. No, these are not careers in and of themselves, however, some clues that I can extract from these core qualities is that he would likely do well, or at least be interested in, the sciences. Almost as important as identifying these interests and strengths is the fact that I am making note of the things he is not good at or interested in…being aware of such things and remaining realistic about limitations is vitally important in navigating your child’s future.
You’ve all heard that giving your child choices is important, as it helps to foster autonomy, problem solving, as well as other great things. The key to choices as a parent, however, is to ensure you are presenting a finite number of choices, just as you would when your child is choosing her breakfast. It is important to assist your child is selecting from a narrowed-down list of career paths based on what you have collaboratively established over time to be a suitable fit.
Our job as parents is to provide guidance to our children in all aspects of life. Our job is to ensure that they grow up to be productive members of society, among other things. Raising your child to believe they are the best at everything, and can do anything they dream of is unrealistic, and is not setting them up for true success.