As a child, I was self-aware and opinionated. I told my parents I either wanted to be an accountant or a business owner. My parents did everything in their power to make sure I was guided on these career paths. Luckily for me, I come from an entrepreneurial family which meant getting a first-hand experience with money came early and this for me was an edge. My mum used to make me count the revenue from her daily sales. She told me that if ever wanted to succeed in any of my career paths I must be good with figures and money. She made the experience fun. For example, if a customer comes to purchase something. She will ask me to work out their change without using the calculator. From then on, I became even more keen to have a career in a business-related field.
Children of today are no different; they are even more self-aware, and I believe parents should have conversations on their career path at a very young age, in particular on the things they enjoy and are good at. So, what is a Career? – “an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress”. Why is it important for parents to be involved in their child(ren) career decision-making, planning and development?
It is important because their chosen career path affects future success and happiness in life. Many researchers have concluded that the love and support of parents enabled the children to gain boldness in their capacity to research career choices and choose the best option which excites and interests them. These children also had a higher satisfaction with their career choice in comparison to those not guided or forced into one.
Nigerian/African parents, in general, tend to think they know their children best and know which career path she should be in. This is the total wrong attitude to take. Gone are the days of achieving success in the social sciences whereby most parents end up pushing their child to be either a Doctor, Nurse, Engineer, Lawyer or Accountant. As the world develops, so are new career paths. If you don’t believe me, read our “Passion Over Profession” series where we explore creatives such as Falz the Bahd Guy who went from a Lawyer to a full blown entertainer and also Toju Foyeh Lawyer to Fashion Designer.
As a parent, your job is to influence their level of education and practical training in whatever career path they end up choosing; their knowledge, beliefs and attitude towards various occupations and work in general; and finally their motivation to succeed. Children generally are great observers and absorbers who also take after you, so setting a good example and building a great relationship will help crystallise how successful they are in their career. Don’t compare them to their siblings, cousins, friends or neighbours children. You might think you are challenging them, often or not, you are actually breaking their confidence which might inhibit their ability to make decisions. If your child is still trying to find his or her talents and skills, encourage them to discover who they are and also teach them decision-making skills. An internship might also be the best way forward, especially on their long holidays to help them develop knowledge of the world of work. You can also play a career game to help them discover their interest.
If your child is great at drawing, encourage him to turn it into a profession. The term “starving artist” is slowing being eradicated as artists are now finding new ways of monetizing their talents especially since the emergence of technology and internet. They can now become car designers, fashion or product illustrators, fashion designers, comic book writers, graphic/multimedia designers and so much more.
To be honest, we know it can’t be easy being a parent and it can be stressful helping a child/children choose their various career paths, but it has to be done.