Your career story
Children observe and learn about work through the example of parents and other adult role models. Every day you give your children messages about work through your action, language, and behavior. What are your children learning from you?
- Do they see work as one part of a balanced life that also includes family, community, and leisure activities? Or do they see work as something that consumes all of an adult's time and attention?
- Do they learn that work outside the home and in the home are both valued?
- Do they believe that making a living is a necessary evil or that work is a valuable and rewarding part of life?
Take some time to think through your own career satisfaction and goals. Are you accepting work that is not fulfilling, hoping that your children will do better? Your own behavior and attitudes will outweigh anything you say about career planning. Work through a career self-management process for yourself before you become your children's career coach.
What is your career?
Many adults understand a career to be a job or occupation or profession; however, a career is really much broader than that. Your career is the way you live your life. It includes education and work - paid, volunteer, school, and at-home work. You may be employed, self-employed, unemployed, or a homemaker; you may think of yourself as a professional or a tradesperson, an employer or an employee. Regardless of occupation title or position, you have a career!
Along with your career, you also have a career story. You need to look at your own career story to help your child in a positive way. You will want to understand your wealth of experience and use it to support your child. You will also want to make sure that you are not imposing your unfulfilled dreams on your child - that your child is free to follow his or her own dreams. Author Mary Jacobsen (Hand-Me-Down Dreams: How Families Influence Our Career Paths) believes, "What parents must do to free their children from the cycle of hand-me-down dreams is first to free themselves. To do so, they have to examine how happy they are with their own career decisions."
Research shows that parents who are happy in their chosen work have happier children. Value your own work and be proud of your contributions. Teach through example that all workers deserve dignity and respect.
What can you do for your own career development?
Career development is a life-long process. Understanding your early family experiences and relationships can help you identify the positive and negative influences you may have had in your own career and barriers to your current career development. Much of the information about work and education on this Web site can help you as an adult if you are thinking about a career transition. Use these three worksheets below to help you assess your own career decisions and look back at the roles your parents played:
Remember, your own career satisfaction matters, and your actions are your most powerful teaching tool.