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Role of Parents in Career Guidance

For children to develop and succeed in a career or at the work place, a collaborative relationship between the school, the child and the parent is vital. In most cases, parents abdicate their role and instead entrust the whole journey of academic and career development of their children to the teachers as the experts. However, it should be noted that in the course of career development, parenting is a critical component that cannot be delegated. Some of how parents can enhance the career development of their children are discussed below.

Role modeling- Children learn a lot through observation. This implies that there are high chances of developing an interest in parents’ career if the parents positively present themselves. It is common to find several children from a given family ending up in the profession of parents. However, this should be done with caution to avoid parents influencing children in professions that do not align with children’s interests and abilities. In modelling, parents need to create an environment of freedom that allows children to explore and select careers that do not conflict with their interests. Parents should also be aware of their own career unfinished businesses. These are careers that they might have hoped to develop but ended up in different professions. If not careful this may unconsciously affect their guidance to the children pushing children not to live their dreams but the dreams of their parents which can lead to conflict and dissatisfaction later on the side of the children.

Parent-teacher partnership- As professionals, teachers could discover children abilities and talents that are blind to parents. The multicultural environment in the school setting presents children with the opportunity to discover some of their skills and interests that could not have been revealed in the home environment. It is at school that talents and interest in drama, games, journalism and debating among others are discovered and developed. Likewise, children joining the school environment from home have some other abilities that are apparently known to parents that teachers are utterly ignorant of. For maximum support of the student, it calls for regular consultations between parents and teachers. Failure to have this kind of engagement could limit the career options for learners. When parents initiate and sustain an open door policy with the teachers, an environment of information sharing about the learner is created, and this boosts the teachers’ and parents’ skills in handling the learner. On the other hand when learners become aware that they are being monitored and supported by the teachers and parents the outcome is self-motivated learners who are more confident and informed about their abilities.

Parents should be conversant with emerging careers. The contemporary parent needs to be aware of the changing career options by being open and willing to see opportunities for their children out of the traditional jobs.  In the recent past, it is emerging that talents and other interests can culminate into a successful and satisfying career for the learners. The days when parents could discourage their children from extracurricular activities in the school to avoid ‘wasting’ time for studies are over. Instead, parents are called upon to help identify the talents of their children and together with teachers help the learners develop them. Universities are also opening up programs that address these emerging issues in career development. For instance, in the recent past, various universities have developed study programs in areas like sports science, theatre, recreation and music among others. Learners would be more successful in a career if their interests are supported instead of forcing them to work hard for the traditional careers in which they have no interest in.

Multiple intelligence promotion. It’s important for parents to understand that every child has the potential for productivity in various dimensions. Psychologists have proved that an individual could have different types of intelligence ranging from logical intelligence, musical intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, bodily intelligence, and intrapersonal intelligence among others. With this knowledge, it is essential for parents to understand that the learners do not have to be drilled for one particular career alone. They should remain open and encourage their children to explore the other areas they are likely to be productive in apart from the area they seem to be performing well. When learners are helped to discover this, they diversify their approach to career and therefore increase their chances of succeeding in other professions if they fail in one particular favorite one. It is also important to note that we are in are of multiple careers where one individual can successfully be an engineer during the day, a blogger in the evening and a landscaper in the weekend.

Lifelong mentorship- Parents need to be aware that parental guidance in matters of career and general life issues does not end when the learner finally joins the university.  As it is, many students joining universities lack parental support and mentorship. Many parents assume that their children are adults and most likely very ‘bright’ hence require no monitoring of any kind. Some parents only visit the university where their children study during admission and graduation. In the course of the entire study, the learners are left on their own to maneuver the challenges of higher education and life in general. The possible end result is the erosion of values that parents have taken years to build in the formative years of development. As much as parents want to cultivate independence in their children, parental support would be encouraged throughout the entire education journey to help the learners hold on the values passed to them from their parents.

The contemporary parent has no choice but to work with the teachers and the learner to widen their career prospects. No learner can fully develop their career in isolation or with the teachers alone without the input of the parent.

Dr. Stephen Asatsa

Lecturer of Psychology,

The Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA)

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