A Note About Your Son/Daughter

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Your son or daughter wants to look good in your eyes. While they may be grown in age and independence, they are still vulnerable to your acceptance of them. Actions speak louder than words. And it’s usually through actions that a person’s core vulnerability is expressed. Many parents report that their son or daughter defies them, argues, or ignores even the slightest suggestion. Usually the suggestions are the same ones your son or daughter heard so easily when his career counselor gave them at the last session.

In addition to feeling vulnerable, probably unconsciously so, your sons and daughters also have a wish for things to be instant and easy and are frustrated when they aren’t. Some strategies employed by them when trying to get out of the difficult work involved in career decision-making are looking to you to give them the answers (even though they don’t’ really want them); acting ambivalent towards their career in hopes that it will go away; and other similar types of unproductive behavior.  These behaviors don’t appear with you because your son or daughter thinks that the career counselor is a better person, they occur because the counselor doesn’t have the history with them that the parent has.

Parents are usually relieved to know that the emotional struggles emerge because career transition is very stressful on their son or daughter whether it appears so or not. It’s not their incompetence as a parent that makes their relationship strained or difficult. But the relief is not enough – nor should it be. When I talk to groups of parents about these issues, there’s usually a hand that shoots up: “O.K. I get it but what do I do? I still have to help him get a start in the right direction in his life, don’t I? At some point he has to learn how to make career decisions and stick to them, right? I mean, I can’t just lie and say it will all work out when it won’t, should I?”

I know these concerns are pervasive because, as if on cue, the heads of other parents start nodding together in agreement when this is discussed. Assuming vulnerability and the need to tread lightly will generally save the two of you lots of difficulty during this transition time. It’s like setting an iron at a very low setting on a piece of nylon. If you start on a high setting, you may find yourself with a sticky, stubborn, difficult mess – but things glide along very smoothly at the low setting.