It’s true that a child’s decision about the future of their careers, or lack thereof, can impact not only their life, but yours as their parent. While peers largely influence your child on matters such as music or dress, research indicates that overall, parents are still the most significant influencing factor when it comes to a child’s career decision. However, what may seem like a simple decision can quickly become an overwhelming one, not only for your child, but for you too! In order to most effectively navigate this, it’s important to have career conversations with your child – in this two-part blog post, we’ll be sharing some simple do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when having these conversations.

The “Don’ts“:

Don’t compare apples to oranges.

Avoid comparisons between your child, his or her siblings and friends and even yourself. The statement “when I was your age…” will likely undermine your child’s feelings and experiences and stifle further conversation.

Making comparisons doesn’t help your child to understand his or her experiences nor does it necessarily provide him/her with an opportunity to learn more about themselves or possible career options. It can be great for you to share your experiences with your child, but let him/her develop and learn from their own experiences too.



Don’t assume that, if your child doesn’t intuitively know what careers they are interested in, that something is wrong with them.

Some people simply have an easier time identifying career interests due to exposure and personality type. As an example, a youth interested in pursuing a career in teaching or medicine will have already been exposed to this profession multiple times through personal experience (going to the doctor, having teachers in school), media (i.e., TV and movies), or through family and friends.

This also explains why it is common for many youth to state their career aspirations as being an actor/actress or athlete. Other professions such as costume designer, musicologist, social media strategist, or industrial psychologist are less common and therefore the opportunity for occupational exposure and awareness is less.


Don’t take a one-track approach. University isn’t for everyone.

Technical and trade schools, apprenticeships, internships and work experiences, and private vocational schools are all possibilities. A university degree doesn’t guarantee personal or financial success and alternative Career pathsoptions aren’t recipes for unemployment. We advise on choosing a career direction, then figuring out the best post-secondary method to achieve this – however, most people approach this in reverse, which is more limiting.

As many students finance their training and education through a combination of parental contribution, loans, scholarships, and employment earnings, it is best to spend money wisely through informed decision making.  A mismatched educational experience can deplete financial resources, erode your child’s confidence, and discourage the future pursuit of better suited options.


Don’t pretend to have all the answers.

Parenting is hard work and it’s impossible for parents to be experts on every situation their child experiences. Don’t be afraid to seek outside resources and support for your child. This can be a great time for your child to obtain career counselling with an experienced professional at Calgary Career Counselling, or support from our Education and Training Advisor to navigate the confusing array of educational institutions and application criteria.




For the “Do’s” part of this blog, click here.


Remember, each person is unique, so it stands to reason that your child’s career development will similarly be unique. Career decision making is a dynamic process that’s often subject to chance and isn’t only about making one choice. As a parent, you are well positioned to be one of the strongest allies and one of the greatest career decision making supports in your child’s life. Be curious, be understanding, and most of all, be patient!




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