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 “Do’s“:

Do inform yourself of current career trends and labour market information.

If you are well into your own career or haven’t experienced a recent career shift, you may not have noticed some of the trends affecting your child’s career development. It’s important that your child make career decisions based on current and future trends, not past trends. Below are a few examples of current trends likely affecting your child’s career:

  • Frequent career changes within and between industries.
  • An increase in youth taking a gap year in between high school and post-secondary.
  • The prevalence of “multi-tracking” (i.e. pursuing more than one career at the same time).
  • A greater need for unpaid internships and volunteer work experiences as a way to get experience and explore career options.
  • An increased absence of the organizational career ladders and defined career paths that parents or grandparents likely experienced.
  • Way, way, way more options, not just in careers but also educational/training institutions!
Do explore your own biases.

You may have beliefs about certain professions being more stable or better than others. Understand that values (i.e. what an individual determines to be important) are critical determinants of career satisfaction and career longevity, and that your values might be different from your child’s values. Help your child explore what is important to him or her and be prepared for the possibility of a values conflict between the two of you. A difference in values can be a learning experience and, as tough as it sometimes is, try to be open minded and listen rather than judge.

Do provide support and encouragement.

Celebrate their achievements and help them learn from situations that didn’t go as well. Take the time to understand what success and failure means to your child and make an effort to learn about the ways in which your child defines happiness and career satisfaction.

Do encourage exploration.

Career interests most often develop from exposure to a variety of activities, including classes, hobbies, arts and crafts, reading, travel, sports and volunteering to name a few. Rather than push for a single decision to be about which post-secondary program to pursue or career path to follow, invite your child to explore multiple avenues of interest prior to them making a decision.

Do help your child to set realistic career goals.

Earning a six figure salary by the time they are 24 isn’t impossible, but it may not be realistic. You may want to encourage your child to develop a plan “B,” which is always a great idea to have. Focusing on flexible goal setting, and supporting him or her with redesigning goals in response to changing circumstances such as a change in preference, health, location, the labour market, or finances can be beneficial.


For the “Don’ts” 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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