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Why You Shouldn’t Give Your Kid Career Advice


Why You Shouldn’t Give Your Kid Career Advice

Tess Brigham

Your 20-something son or daughter is currently staying with you until they “figure out what to do with the rest of their lives.”

That was 6 months ago.

And they’re still going in circles about the same four career choices they were mulling over when they first moved back in.

You continue to debate whether or not you should say something. You know that life today is nothing like when you were in your 20s, but you have life experience and you know this kid better than they know themselves.

Why wouldn’t you be the perfect person to give your son or daughter some sound career advice?

If you read the title, you know my answer already. But why?

Career and Work Aren’t What They Used to Be

Recent high school and college graduates entering the job market for the first time are facing pressures that you or I can only imagine. The competition is fierce, and they’re being interviewed for positions that didn’t exist 10 years ago and that may be outsourced or streamlined 10 years from now.

When a young person enters the workforce today, they need more than an impressive resume. They need a strong sense of self, an idea of where they want their first job to take them, and the ability to think outside the traditional 9-5 job.

There are jobs and careers that are not even on your radar and simply having a college degree or “being the smartest” in your class don’t hold the same value it once did.

And then there’s the fact that getting a job is sometimes the least of their problems.

Social media inundates them all day, every day, informing them that everyone that they went to school with is doing better than them. While technology has made our world more connected and has exposed us to a world that used to feel “out of reach,” it can make 20-somethings feel like they’ve failed before they even started.


There’s Just Something About a Mother or Father’s Advice

Even though I’m in my 40s, with my own family, when my mother gives me advice, my eyes glaze over. I instantly get defensive, and before I know it… I’m 14 again. I’m sure my mother’s advice is pretty good (I think… I wasn’t listening), but the problem is I just can’t hear it.

I don’t want to listen to my mother, and my son doesn’t want to listen to me.  

I’m sure all of the career advice and thoughtful suggestions you’ve been sharing with your son or daughter have been really good. I’m sure that if they could “hear” you and would actually take some of the guidance coming their way, then they would be out of the house by now.

Unfortunately, as parents, we’re not always our child’s best coach/therapist/career advisor.

This can be a difficult realization, believe me, I know! But just like your daughter's Little League coach helped her with pitching, sometimes it takes someone else, someone with expertise in helping people improve on new skills, to be a neutral force for good.


Sometimes Your Kid Has to Fail

In my book, I talk a lot about allowing your kid to fail. It’s an important part of life, and in order to achieve success, you have to fail… a lot. Part of becoming an adult is breaking away, and you need to let your kid take responsibility for their choices.

While you may have mixed feelings of your kid’s dream of becoming a YouTube star, you want to continue to focus on the limits and boundaries you’ve set around how long you plan to let your child live with you, and how long you plan to support them financially.


You Don’t Want to Take the Fall

Most importantly, if you give your son or daughter advice that doesn’t quite work, or if you steer them in a direction that doesn’t feel “right” to them, you risk alienating them completely.

It won’t matter if your child didn’t follow the advice the way you laid it out, and it won’t matter if they quit too soon, you’ll take the fall. And when you really need your kid to “hear” what you have to say, they won’t be listening.

So what do you do if your kid comes to you asking for advice?


Cherish the little moments

Despite all the times they don’t listen, there will be those rare moments. Maybe you’re chopping carrots or in the middle of Game of Thrones – right during the good part! And your kid comes in and asks you for advice.

It can be hard to catch it when it happens. (And even harder to pause Game of Thrones.) But sit up and cherish this moment. You can do this best by, actually not talking, but listening.

Listen to what your kid is asking. And then avoid the temptation, difficult though it may be, to deliver that spiel you’ve been saving up. Instead, ask questions.

Ask your child what they think. Ask the pros and cons of each career path. The best way for you to help is to help them see all their options and allow them to ultimately decide on their future.

Don’t forget, you’ve been instilling good values, integrity and confidence since the day they were born, you’ve done your part, it’s your son or daughter’s time now. 

Do you have a child who is struggling to launch? Are you looking for help or guidance while your adult child transitions from school into the real world? Schedule a FREE 20 minute consultation to learn more about me and my services. Go to so we can help your child launch!