Is your young person ready to be coached? How do you know?

October 22, 2017

It is not what Careers are available that is important, but the “why” your child wants to do what they want to do and ”how” they approach realising the opportunity to do it.

Parents say they would like to be involved in their child’s career development.  However, some simply don’t know what to do for the best. They tell us they feel ill-equipped to help their child in the current fast-moving and complex job market.  Today’s landscape is very different from when they entered the job market.   

Career coaching by parents is not about parenting skills per se, but it may overlap with information about what wise parents do, and how they communicate.  At “Parent Career Coach” we address the parent/child relationship in the context of young people and parents being able to work together effectively to achieve wise career choices.  We want to encourage parents and children, working together, to unlock the knowledge that they both have.  However, it is important that both parties are ready, either when conversations turn to future career choice spontaneously, or when forced decision points arise designated by the school, college or other organisation.

It is also important for parents to prioritise setting aside time to spend with their young person, seeking support and knowing where to access the information they both need. Parents have told us that they need to develop skills such as listening without making a judgement too quickly and asking good, open-ended questions. In this way, parents develop the skills they need to empower their young people.  For young people to confidently pursue what it takes to do something that is completely meaningful in their future lives, parents should be tuned in to their young person’s readiness to take their future career seriously.  A career based on self-knowledge is preferable to one based on where they live in the country, and who was the most persuasive visiting school speaker.  

The parents who have talked to me have shared their fears and concerns as well as their hopes and aspirations for their children. Their experiences have informed some of the exercises we have devised for our new website - coming soon!  We have placed much more emphasis than we had originally envisaged on how to develop the best possible relationship with your child. It is for this reason that we are always interested in hearing from parents about their experiences.

Many parents we talk to are looking for tips on how to get their children to engage. Some parents often give up when faced with persistent monosyllabic responses from their children, so we have included some tips and techniques to try to get your children talking. The main thing to bear in mind is that all parents and young people are unique. Your child may be ready to play the Xbox all day, but not ready to talk about their career!

I was one of those parents who talked to my sons about needing to know who they were and where they were going, regardless of the response I got which was usually “oh mother not again”! Recently one of my - now adult - sons (20 years later) said we knew we could talk to you about anything!

Here are a few things young people have said to us, mainly to avoid the career conversation with their parents!

•    I have no idea what I would like to do. I am delaying my decision as long as possible.

•    I am not sure how I want to live my life yet.

•    I can’t talk to my parents about what is going on in my life.

•    I don’t have time to spend finding out about myself and discovering my passions.

•    I am confused by there being so much to decide, and I am too busy anyway.

•    I know what I don’t want to do, but find it really difficult to decide what I do want to do.

You will already perceive that these statements are a good way of putting off making a decision, and a great ploy to get their parents off their back.  It may be that the young person is just not ready to talk, but whilst this may be acceptable for a while, the longer young people put off talking about themselves and their lives, the easier it is to put career decisions on the back burner.  As a result, when the pressure is eventually on to decide on a job, a decision is made out of necessity and in haste rather than through freedom of choice.

Where does a parent start?

Here are a few thoughts:

•    Talk to your young person about what they enjoy and what they are good at. Make a list. Do the same for yourself, compare and discuss.

•    Talk about what your young person is interested in; something new they would like to learn, or a skill they would like to improve.

•    Get involved in the computer games your children play, watch films together, take an interest in school activities, record your child’s enthusiasms.

•    If your young person has an opportunity to engage in work experience, volunteering or part-time work, encourage them to talk about their experiences and what they learned, good and bad.


As a parent career coach, keep notes about your conversations, mental or written. When laying down our skills in life we repeat patterns, particularly those things we enjoy and are good at.

Where parents have the willingness and knowledge to assist their children in their career choices, their children gain huge advantages that last a lifetime.