Parents as Career Role Models

Anyone reading this blog aged 25 to 45 may be wondering if your parents or external factors chose your career path. Everyone goes through career changes including your parents, and they can be an important career role model.  As a parent, they guide your lifestyle and help you make the right decision. However, in choosing a career for their children, parents need to be facilitators not influencers. With a significant age gap in careers, your parents may not be familiar with current career processes or trends. They can teach you a lot about certain careers, the reality of work, respecting authority, learning new skills, and handling job pressure.

Parents can also by default leave a natural imprint on your personality and your preferences for a career. If your mother was a nurse, you may also choose that path because you have the same nature and you heard incredible stories about the health profession. On the other hand, your dad may have been a plumber and you remember the long days, call outs, trying to make ends meet and the dirty clothes! Every family is different and some career choices will stick with you forever. For example, taking on the family business or being an accountant/doctor/lawyer, because your parents told you it is the best career for you. How do your parents know? Here are four key points for consideration.

What I learnt:

  1. Ask for suggestions. Your parents know stuff! Maybe not everything, yet they can be a wealth of knowledge when it comes to career decisions. If you have a career dilemma, the first point of call is usually your family or friends. Make use of your parent’s assistance and ideas when you need it. They may be surprisingly helpful.
  2. Parents are not career advisors. Parents love you and want you to succeed in life. They can also be bias and protective and therefore are not career experts. If you want to be a police officer, they may tell you it is dangerous and impossible to achieve. It is their instinct – not yours. Your career choice comes down to preference, passion, natural talents and a desire to make a difference in the world.
  3. Your first job is for learning. Starting your first job can be an exhilarating time. You are finally earning a decent wage, meeting new people and doing something useful. However, it may not be the best job. I learnt from my parents that your first job is for learning and growing. Take everything in, be reliable, polite, ask questions and show initiative. If you do not like the job, it is OK to move on when you are ready.
  4. You take the best from your parents. My mum was a teacher and my dad, a sales and marketing manager. I am neither. What I got from my parents was a mix of traits such as helping others, business planning, empathy, attention to detail and structure. These have all been essential skills in my career path. If you admire your parent’s career choices, ask them what they like about their job. Remember you have their DNA and inherit certain traits, so make the best of it!

Think about what you want to do:

Parents should be motivating and encouraging you to find your passion in life. A career should not be exhausting or boring. If you do become a lawyer, is it for the right reasons? A career is an extension of what you believe in and what you fight for. It is inspiring, uplifting and rewarding on every level. If you do not have that – something is missing. When you are at a crossroads in your career, seek out professional assistance from a qualified practitioner. Everyone has a purpose, so what is yours?