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Is it okay for young people to have unrealistic job prospects?

Children and teenagers are renowned for having some optimistic ideas about their future - such as being a musician or artists. Some parents take on a proactive role in encouraging their children to follow a certain path while others sit back and let the child choose at will. Just how much involvement should parents have?

Sociology Nerd
Kenilworth, GB

2 experts and 3 parents have answered

expert answer
Lorraine Allman expert
Lorraine Allman Author, Businesswoman, Mum GB
Careers expert

It's a really interesting question to ask Cal, especially given an article which appeared in the Guardian newspaper today saying that young people are having to take career decisions too early which can be detrimental not only to themselves but also to employers.

I see no harm in children and teenagers being optimistic about their future plans - why not, they have their whole life ahead of them and there is no reason for them to believe that they can't achieve anything if they're prepared to work hard. And therein lies one of the issues really, that of work ethic. One of the biggest issues which came out of the research for my work at Enterprising Child was the role that parents had to play in teaching their children a strong work ethic - that anything is achievable provided they put the hard work in. So, where for example a child has say a natural talent in music or sport, parents have a role to encourage, nurture, and support the development of that talent, to celebrate what the child is good at, but also to ensure that the child learns that hard work is still required and how they can help make the best of themselves and create their own possibilities.

All our children are busy writing the stories of their own lives and as parents we are there in the very centre of that story, helping to shape its outcome by what we do and what we say. My advice is always to be guided by your child's interests and talents, notice what gets them excited, and give them as many different experiences as possible as they are growing up. Work experiences are key here too, particularly by the time teenagers reach the age of 14. Helping them to try out work in a range of different businesses will give them a taste not just of what work is but also what different industries may be like to work in (or even inspire them to start their own business). Let your child be your guide, but within that context don't be afraid to celebrate their talents, nurture, and nudge them along the way.

7 Reply Share:
Opinion 2 years ago
expert answer
Linda Schumacher M.Ed. expert
Linda Schumacher M.Ed. Early Education and Care Special Holliston, US
Education expert

I love that you have high expectations and dreams! I've learned that it's always important to have a passion and hunger for something nearly untouchable. It keeps you striving and working.

That said, one must earn a living. So don't make your high expectations and excuse to do nothing. Get a job that is on the way to your dream. An example would be if you want to be a major music producer, you would get a job in a store that sells music or in a venue that hires musicians. It's not your dream (far from it) but it's on the way. By working in a small way that is related to your vision, you are keeping your dream alive and palatable.

If you do nothing, thinking that you will hold out for your dream job, you may become unemployable, depressed, and begin a spiral of defeat.

One more thing.... I learned when I was quite young that those of us with very high expectations are often disappointed. It makes sense, doesn't it? Our expectation are high therefore it's likely we are not meeting them. Don't lower your expectations but don't be disappointed either ---- you may take longer to reach your high expectations than it takes other people to reach their modest goals.

good luck to you (or to the young person you are talking about). I hope you reach your expectations!!

3 Reply Share:
Experience 2 years ago
Francesco admin
Francesco Founder @ London, GB

There is not such a thing as "unrealistic job prospect", unless you want to become King of England, in which case, you are out of luck.

Ambition is a very powerful driving force and whether the job prospect is 'realistic' or not, it only depends on your ability to make it happen.

Clearly, things DO NOT happen just by themselves, so you need a plan, a good plan, and then you need to be able to execute it. Whether your parents support your ‘dream’ or not is relatively important – you are the driver here, so the encouragement and push must come from within (i.e. yourself)

How much parental involvement is required, depends on yourself, your goal and on your parents; but as a rule of thumb, a strong support system, ready to pick you up when you fall or to smack you around when you get too comfy, is the most important resource you can have and the most difficult one to find.

Needless to say that a good plan requires a deep understanding of the challenge and of the road ahead. Your parents could act as mentors, advisors, as sounding boards or even as partners, depending on their skill sets and position within the area you are addressing. Identify those areas where you think you need the most help and hopefully your parents can fill some of those gaps. If they cannot, then maybe they can help you understand what you should be doing next. And even if they can’t do that, then go out and look for someone who can. You’d be surprised about how many people are willing to help a clever and hard working guy with a big dream.

The more 'unrealistic" the prospect, the stronger your support system needs to be. If you are lucky enough to have parents that support your dream, then make good use of them.

2 Reply Share:
Opinion 2 years ago
Adam Higgitt
Adam Higgitt Baldock

I tell my kids that they have the world before them and, with the right levels of determination and application, can be whatever they want to be. But the truth is that we all need a certain helping of luck - a chance meeting with the right person, or the right job opportunity to come along at the right time - and the further you go up the career ladder, the bigger and better the break needs to be.

But the rational response to this insight is not to trust one's fate to brute luck. It is to do all you can to ensure that such breaks can be fully exploited if and when they occur by bringing to bear on one's ambitions the right levels of determination and application. If you want to be a pop star you may never get the opportunity without the right breaks. But you won't be able to take advantage of those breaks if you can't sing or perform. Children will discover the role of luck in life soon enough. That doesn't mean they shouldn't aim high.

1 Reply Share:
Opinion 2 years ago

Telling our children the truth about everything from their earliest years (some decency and pacing things for their capacity notwithstanding) means they see how the world works and how people prosper within it. If, when the time comes, they can enjoy living relatively simply and are not squeamish about picking up a broom or a toilet brush to pay the rent if necessary, then they are free to pursue absolutely anything they want, see how it goes and how they like it. Pursue something with sincerity. That's all. As for luck, i agree with the ancient observation that it seems to be related in some positive way to hard work.

1 Reply Share:
Experience 2 years ago

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