Who is where they are today because of their parents – and for parents, please read carers, guardians and grandparents as well.

Who is living where they live, studying what they’re studying, working where they’re working, going out with who they’re going out with, because of their parents?

Who goes to their local school because of where their parents chose to live? Who is studying GCSEs because their parents discussed their options and guided them towards certain subjects? Who is studying A-levels and other level 3 courses for that same reason? Who is at a particular Uni studying a particular degree because of parental guidance? And who then works in a particular industry or role because of their parents?

Then ask yourselves if your parents are doing what they do themselves either because of their own parents, or directly because they rebelled against them?

Employers and educators – beware! Do not underestimate the power of the parent.


So why do they do it to us?

(1) Best interests:

There’s a natural parental instinct – we know it has by-passed a few – to want what you believe is ‘best’ for your child. The automatic reaction that drove your parents to care for you, feed you and protect you when you were little, still kicks in as they see you off out into the world. Have pity as some will, emotionally, still not want to ‘let go of your hand’ and allow you to ‘walk for yourself’.

(2) Not realising when you grew up:

And there’s a fine line for parents – they know who they are – between encouraging and supporting you in whatever you want to do, and telling you exactly what you should do! When is the right time to let go and allow you to make your own mistakes? When do they let you grow up – or notice that you have already grown up?

(3) Financial ties:

In this day and age, when they may be contributing financially to your lifestyle, education, choice of apprenticeship or even with your longer term accommodation, it is extremely challenging for parents to allow you to deviate from the safe and steady path they may want for you.

Whilst you remain ‘under their roof’ and financially dependent on them – no matter what age – there is an argument that the person paying should have a vote and this can often conflict with your desire to be independent.


But let’s not point the blame fully with those who care for you, or who don’t know when to let go and are using their hard-earned money to pay for you still… No matter how independent we want to become – or believe we already are – we still naturally want the reassurance that we have parental approval for what we are doing and so we bear the silent – often not so silent – burden if we go against their wishes.

The challenges?

(1) They don’t understand

Aside from all of the above, there is a very real challenge that parents just do not get what you want to do in life. Granted, you may not always know yourself, but you’ll have an idea whether you like the idea of working outdoors, using your hands, working in an office, or a restaurant, or with children. That’s a start. There are photos on Careersnearhere that can demonstrate just that point. But if they do not ‘get it’, you are fighting an uphill battle from the outset.

(2) They may be blinkered by their own experiences

If they see banking or accountancy as a ‘safe profession’ or have always told their friends that you were going to be a vet one day because you liked playing with the family pets, they may be about to be very disappointed when you announce that you want to study languages or psychology.

(3) They may be right

At the risk of losing a few (more) readers, please bear in mind that parents are older and generally wiser about life, money and the workplace. For all that they may not be able to let go or to understand what you want to do in life, they’ve known you and what ‘makes you tick’ for a very long time and they know what you enjoy doing and what the real world is like out there.

How can you win them round?

(1) Help them to understand

If the challenge lies in parents simply not understanding, there’s a great opportunity to help overcome that and they will most likely be very grateful for your help. The world is moving at such a fast pace, the internet, social media, even the language we use: most parents won’t fully understand what an apprenticeship is or that there are different levels to reflect your academic ability.

How many will totally support your ideas to pursue a creative career or study Art when you could be doing Mathematics instead? And yet Bristol and Bath have been identified as two of the nine key UK creative centres outside of London, and the region is recognised for its world-class excellence! Your challenge is not to expect them to understand, but to help them.

(2) Listen to them

If you want your parents to listen to you, perhaps first give them the benefit of the doubt and try to understand their point of view as well. You might be swayed – or you might simply gather a list of objections which you can then overcome: it’s a sales technique! And if they can’t articulate their argument convincingly, it may just help them to back down quicker as well.

(3) Involve them

Take them with you to open days and specialist talks. These come up on Careersnearhere all the time under the relevant career sectors. When you’re at these events, show them the stands that interest you and ensure that they are asking questions of the providers as well as you – and that they are really listening to the answers. You won’t be able to fully explain everything and often a third party can really help take the pressure off you having to justify your decision.

And finally …

We’d encourage employers and educators to look out for and interview the young people who have done something different on their way to reach you. Was this because they rebelled and fought for the path they wanted to take? Was it because they failed in the path they had been led to naively by others? Or was it because they have incredible interpersonal skills and can engage others, listen to them, understand their point of view and still influence them to allow them to explore a different path. These young people will have a tale to tell and skills they may not even realise they have!

Careersnearhere: It’s Your Future – Let’s Get It Started!

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