Having mentored and coached hundreds of youth, I see the same bad movie played out almost every time. The student will come to my office sit down and share with me their dream and dilemma. They have a vision, a passion, a journey and unfortunately, their parents do not agree and want them to do something else, something they really don’t want. Out of loyalty and obligation, they go down a path that is not theirs and the road leads to misery. The conversation usually goes like this:
Parent: I was talking to a friend and we think you should be an accountant.
Youth: But I don’t want to be an accountant, I want to be a chef!
Parent: A chef! You know you can’t make money at that!
Youth: You can, I have looked into it!
Parent: It is too risky, and not everyone gets to be on TV. You should be an accountant. That is where you make money, it is safe and you can retire happy.
Youth: It isn’t always about the money! What about happiness?
Parent: Happiness will never pay the bills.
And so the conversation goes on and on and the dream to be a chef is discarded like an overcooked meal. You might have a mental image of ‘what’ your son or daughter is interested in and usually it is not correct. There is depth to every job and career beyond the surface level opinion you might have created.
Unfortunately, this scenario happens a lot and maybe you have been guilty of this conversation. It is not one that is a dialogue or conversation, but rather one is imposing. What one is doing is telling rather than listening. Now of course, if your son or daughter says they want to be a circus clown, that does not mean you suddenly go on one extreme and say, “Great, enjoy this choice and let me know how it goes and lets pull you out of school.” Instead, if your son or daughter wants to go down a path in a chosen field that you are not sure about, what you really need to be is a COACH:
• Care – Invest time in what your child is thinking of doing for a living or a path they are starting to take. Show interest and ask question rather than responses that shoot down their idea. Engage in a conversation and see how their eyes light up when they talk about something they are interested in.
• Opportunities – Seek out the opportunities rather than the challenges. Educate yourself on what it means to be a chef over an accountant. Our inherent response when someone says something is to suddenly say why you can’t do it or should not do it. Research and explore the possibilities before talking about the obstacles on why you shouldn’t do it.
• Approachable – Be open minded. If you have the conversations earlier on in their lives, the young person is more open to come to you for insight because they know you will listen and not judge their idea and shoot it down.
• Challenge – Don’t just say yes because I said so. Ask them to come up with information and research to show you that it is a viable career or why they are interested in the field. Put the onus and responsibility on them. If they want to be a chef, ask them to come up with what it entails, how to prepare for this at a younger age, how do they know this is what they want. Have they talked to anyone that is a chef to see if this is what is of interest to them? Maybe through the collaborative research, they realize that being a chef is really not what they want.
• Help – Work with them to investigate the area and put your mind more at ease. You will find that by educating yourself, you will learn that actually you can lead a comfortable and happy life doing something you were meant to do. Try to see what doors you can open, rather than close. Being supportive is critical.
By applying COACH, you will find that your son or daughter will have more realizations about what they would like to do and you will have more comfort in their decision. It opens the world to possibilities and opportunities rather than challenges and obstacles. There is a strong chance that they will have a fulfilling life because you took the time to COACH them and yourself.
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