“Parents should play the role of a facilitator. They need to acknowledge that today’s children could know much more than they do. ‘I am the parent and older, so I am right’ is no longer valid! As a facilitator, the parent should first listen, without judging if the child is right or wrong.
Children see the parents’ role as very important in the decision-making process. So we should avoid forcing them into the dilemma of reconciling their wishes with their parents’.
“Parents should understand that the child is at a crossroads. They don’t want to rebel, they want a resolution. If they are shown a reasonable way, which stems from understanding, they are willing to listen.”
What advice would you give parents on being good facilitators in this process?
- Realise it is an important decision, and be proactive and not reactive.
- Invest time and approach the discussion in a structured manner. Do not let it happen like the ‘flavour of the day’; rather, get into specifics.
- Start the discussion early – in Grade 9, as in our country the child has to make a choice of subjects after Grade 10.
- Keep the channels of communication open. Be accepting so that the child can share hopes, fears and dreams with you. This will help children be open about their choices rather than simply make statements which they think their parents want to hear.
- Seek professional help to facilitate the process better and do your best to make children understand the ‘world of work’.
Learnings from a Parent’s Journey:
Sudha Kumar, with a daughter in Grade 11
Reassure your children that it’s fine to be unsure: Some children are sure about what they want to do while others are not. At this stage, children can become anxious, especially if their peers have clarity and they themselves don’t. As parents, we need to assure them that they still have time to make up their minds, and it is more important to focus on doing well at school at this stage.
Be open about the choices your children make: The idea is to help your children explore options. So, as wild as their choice may seem to you, do not dismiss it offhand. Keep an open mind and try and understand why they are thinking about a particular area. A few discussions can lend clarity to both the child and you. She may either outgrow the idea or identify new areas to explore; alternately she may convince you on its merits!