Teens: Mother doesn’t always know best!


Like most readers, when I was at school the one question people asked me was…”What do you want to be when you grow up?” When I emphatically replied “a journalist”, my mother declared “that’s not happening”.

  You see, I attended an all-girls’ convent school where the majority of my classmates’ lives were mapped out…they were groomed to become devoted wives and mothers. Now, while that’s a wonderfully worthwhile career/life choice, (and regular readers know I am a wife and a proud mother), back in the olden days when Burger King was still just a Prince, it wasn’t thought possible for girls like me who were educated in a convent to aspire to becoming anything other than a nun or a wife/mother.

  However, thank God we’re now living in a more progressive society but what about those teens who’re entering sixth year who’ll be asked to fill in the CAO application form, yet don’t have a clear picture of how they want their career paths to go? How can these poor teens be expected to include something they’re interested in, or something they have a passion for and have always wanted to do, and importantly, know that they will always want to do this in the future?

  However, on the positive side, as the economy is recovering today’s students have plenty of career options so perhaps the way to go would be to work out what they’re actually good at and start from there. Alternatively, sixth years could consider doing the following: Have a little chat with yourself, get a pen and a pad and ask yourself “What type of values do I have?” “When am I at my best? “Am I creative?” “Do I like making a difference to people’s/animal’s lives?” “Do I enjoy sports?” You get the idea…then use your answers as a guideline. You never know, you may actually have a certain amount of expertise in areas where you previously didn’t even realise.

  Chat with your parents, your teachers/career guidance counsellor and your friends and ask them what skills/attributes they feel you have, what, in their opinion are your key strengths, and add them to your list. Perhaps they feel you’re great at teamwork or problem solving, or perhaps they feel you’re quite empathetic and would be good working with children or even joining An Garda Síochána. You never know, but isn’t it always worth getting several perspectives before making an important decision regarding course choices.

  Remember, it’s not a good idea to choose a career path because it pays well, nor is a positive move to apply to a college just because all your friends are going there. And please don’t choose a career based on family expectations if this path is at odds with your own personal happiness.

  And parents…while it can be difficult, based on my own experience, I found that allowing your still-developing teen to experiment and experience a variety of subjects is the best way to help them find their feet and discover for themselves if they’re cut out for a specific path in life. And if it doesn’t work out as they hoped, no problem, sure they can always return to education.