Ties that Bind
|A person has three names, the name he/she inherited from his/her parents, the name his/her parents gave him/her and the name he/she makes for himself/herself, says a wise man.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that a name a person makes for himself/herself is possible only with the love and support of family.
What are traits of a successful person? Responsibility. Compassion. Loyalty. Trust. Honesty. Hard work. Sharing. Faith. Everyone recognises these as also essentials of good character. But where do we learn these? Not from a textbook, but from the Family—the greatest institution in the world.
In this confusing world, the family is a support system that anchors you and provides a supporting hand when you stumble, gives you a basic life view of optimism and hope.
Turning your dream into victory doesn’t happen easily. Many students think they can, or should, try to go it alone as they pursue their dreams and goals. The truth is, if you want meaningful, long-term success, you need your family and mentors to help you achieve it. Success comes not only through your own efforts, but also through the assistance, guidance, and encouragement from your family.
A key element of the ‘Success Process’ is building relationships with parents who care about you and believe in your goals as you grow and expand the possibilities for your life. How many times have you read about toppers saying that they owe their success to their family? These high achievers have been urged on to succeed and to develop their talents by their parents. Many students who have had difficulty building better lives for themselves because they didn’t have anyone in their corner cheering them on, advising them and helping them to get through the hard times.
Not all families teach children to recognise their promise, worth and purpose. They would rather prefer to pave the road for their kids, providing them all kinds of road-maps. This over-dependence on family resources will lead you nowhere. You cannot make a life for yourself if you keep sitting under the family tree. The family tree is only there to provide you with ‘shade’ when need be, but you ought to be ready to struggle through the scorching sun to reach your destination. What you have inherited from your parents, you must earn over again for yourselves or it will not be yours.
Research indicates that students who come from homes that are well-
organized, where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, whose members speak their mind and manage conflict positively, seek out ways to grow, and make decisions through discussion and democratic negotiation, are well-equipped to make the transition from college to career. Families are life’s
first teachers, often of lessons that are never forgotten.
While families are, for many, a relatively consistent source of comfort and support, they can also be a cause of conflict and stress. Our early experiences with our families directly affect our identity and self-esteem. The interactions we have with our family members influence our personality development and expectations toward others and ourselves.
Given the impact our families have on our lives, it is understandable that difficulties we experience with them can, at times, interfere with our functioning well and feeling positive about ourselves.
Together on the career bandwagon
Parents need to identify their children’s special something. What are they good at? What are their skills? Create an environment that fosters these skills and interests.
Legitimize the development of natural skills that may or may not have commercial potential. Help child think about personality and make the connection between personality and work environment. Help the child learn how to handle stress and impulse, to develop emotional intelligence.
Teens can be encouraged to recognize and accept their strengths as well as their weaknesses. Being well aware of our strengths allows us to pursue activities that will likely result in success.
Teenagers can help gather data about the real world of careers and work with help of parents. In turn, a parent need not act like an expert who knows all about careers. Instead, he/she must help connect the child to his/her network of friends and acquaintances and even career counsellors for career exploration purposes. Make available appropriate resources (reading, people, experiences) to assist with career exploration.
Analysing the pros and cons of the various job options with matched abilities can lead to appropriate career selection, resulting in job satisfaction and a happy life.
Parents should not bluntly tell their child that a particular career is a bad choice. Allow the child to analyse and explore—it is vastly more productive for them to invest time learning that a particular career is not for them, than for parents to tell them that “you simply would not be able to manage the heavy study load required in a course”.
Often, parent’s advice is flavoured with their own aspirations, which obstructs the appropriate career choice for their children. Unnecessary imposition by parents, others and peer groups might make a child seek a career which is not suited for him or her, and leads to unhappiness.
Parents should talk with their children about career aspirations. Express interest in their plans, communicate the importance of setting goals.
As a parent, the chief aim must be to motivate the child to set realistic career goals. By establishing long-term goals, an adolescent can then set short-term goals that lead toward the attainment of the ultimate objective. Goals change over time. Thus, the adolescent is required to be helped to maintain focus on his current goals, while supporting him/her through defeats as well as victories.
Parents should also help their child to overcome nonchalance about career decisions that may be simply disguising a fear of failure. The decision-making process should be kept going even when the child says, “You decide for me!”
Many teenagers claim that their parents are not interested in them. You want the support and encouragement of your parents around you, but no one is there for you. That could be the case for a lot of reasons: Perhaps you are not very open with your family, and they do not ‘know’ you well enough to know where you need help.
Or, maybe they see in you an attitude of “I don’t care” or “I don’t need anybody’s help”, and if you don’t care, they surely won’t.
Or maybe your parents may be ‘overawed’ (no kidding!) by your moody self and are trying to give you some personal space.
Or perhaps, it’s because you haven’t proven yourself trustworthy. You won’t be able to build your family as a support team if you don’t keep your word.
Real trust is established over time, through shared experiences and a pattern of reliability a way of living your life by certain rules based on age-old principles. If you want to appear trustworthy, be trustworthy. You can’t fake trustworthiness.
Remember that one of the core motivations for participation in career decision-making is that making decisions is what life is about. Do not be embarrassed to ask for help from parents and family members who have specific education, talents, or knowledge in career decision-making process. Discuss your goals, dreams and hopes for the future with them.
Your parents may “pinch, nudge, push and shove” in direction of a particular career. It is okay if your parents “pinch” you towards a particular direction, as parents are in the best position to help you, as they have the best knowledge of your interests and abilities, as also the strongest interest for your well being and success. However, if your parents keep on ‘pushing and shoving’ you towards a particular profession, which you think is not at all suited for you, try negotiating with them. If that fails, try and seek the advice of another adult whom your parents trust or a trained and qualified counsellor, to assess your aptitude and match them with the opportunities available.
Do not forget that your education actually can be considered a family resource. As a human capital asset, your advanced education is an income builder and management tool for your future. Lastly, remember life does not come with an instruction book, that is why we have fathers.
Bringing up parents
It is a little known fact that properly raising a parent requires attention and thought. Teaching parents that you can take care of yourself and have a life is difficult. Acknowledging and working with their problem of letting go is challenging.
Living with their rules and regulations is difficult. You may sometimes feel your parents control your life.
When you are away at college and your days are filled with other activities, nurturing your parents may be, at best, an afterthought. Be proactive and invest time in your parents.
Many adult children view being dependent as negative and strive toward independence. But your parents are accustomed to you depending upon them. Know that your parents may have difficulty immediately accepting that you are now an almost adult. In fact, they may accept this idea only after considerable conflict occurs. Your growing sense of independence tells them that you need them less and less, and they’re afraid and scared they will lose you completely.
Be patient with them. Tell them about your successes and failures. Reassure them that you are handling your mistakes responsibly. Know that they’ll wish to contribute views about your life and allow them to.
Why do parents insist on knowing your friends and who you are with, make you to come home at a particular time, demand to know what you are doing, make you do your study at all hours and treat you like a little kid sometimes?
Do discussions always turn into rows in your family? Do you find yourself having the same arguments, about your study time, again and again? Your parents think that you do not spend enough time studying, or they think that the way you go about your study routine is unproductive. Your response is that you will study only when you want to, “I know what I am doing!” or you storm out of the room or ignore them.
The main reason parents make lots of rules and go ballistic when you don’t stick to those rules is fear. The rules are to protect you or to stop you from making bad and possibly dangerous mistakes.
Basically, your parents are scared because they love you. They don’t want to fail as parents. But mostly they don’t want to fail you. And they’re afraid they will.
So they are scared, and they worry about you. All right, you may be stronger than they think. You may be confident, but they’re afraid. You may know where you’re going, but they’re not so sure you’re going in the right direction. You don’t have to absorb their fear, but can you respect it?
You can help calm these fears, and get along better, if you seek their advice. No, you don’t always want your parents telling you what to do. But you do want to let them know you still value their opinions and their convictions. Let them meet your friends. Your parents really do worry about your friendships. They wonder if you’re getting into “the wrong crowd”. There is nothing “wrong” or “shameful” about having to be home at a certain time. Adhering to your curfew helps your parents to learn to trust you. After all, your parents do not want to end up like some families who can trace their ancestors 300 years back, but can’t tell where their children were last night.
And don’t just give your parents information about yourself (“I had an English test”); let them in on your feelings (“I just feel horrible/wonderful about my marks”).
You must remember that your parents have already gone through the “nightmarish” process of finding a career. They see the big wide world outside as a jungle where small fishes without good professional degrees do not find a place under the sun. So they end up insisting that you ought to spend all your waking hours studying, because if you don’t, you might end up a pauper!
But that isn’t how you see it. You think that your parents control you and do not trust you.
There may be another reason why you do not pay heed to your parents’ advice, as you have not realized the importance of studying in your life. In other words you are naïve. Teenagers have not been out in the real world and experienced life as independent people.
Mark Twain had an interesting saying: “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” Of course, Twain’s father had not changed at all—it was Twain himself who changed. Twain’s father became smart about the time Twain’s lost his naiveté. Twain simply could not see how smart his parent was until then. That problem afflicts all teenagers.