How to Talk to Teens about their Future
● By Digital Media Director
Jankord and Audra Staebell, University Center Sioux Falls
For parents and teens there are two additional “New Year’s” in every calendar year— the start of each school semester. At the start of this last school term, you probably made some resolutions in hopes of your family having the best school year yet. We are all busy, so these talks can easily get pushed off to the side or only talked about when things go wrong. We don’t want them to seem like a consequential conversation but rather, a positive one. I encourage you to take small steps in talking to your teen about their future. It doesn’t have to be an overwhelming, stressful discussion. It can be in the car, after watching a movie together, waiting at the doctor’s office, on a Saturday morning during breakfast, etc.
Here are a few tips on how start these valuable conversations.
1. Encourage your teen to dream…dream big! This is more than identifying a career. Dreaming about the future can include their own meaning of happiness; lifestyle, family, hometown, etc.
2. Be an advocate of your teen’s goals: Help them find opportunities to learn more about their goals. Get excited about these opportunities with them. If your child wants to be an artist, they could enroll in art classes at school and attend art events in Sioux Falls. If your child wants to be a teacher, they could work as a camp counselor or day care assistant to learn how to work with kids. This may sustain their goals or alter them. Either way, be their advocate.
3. Be open minded: Teens often identify their interests and goals for their future at a young age. I always wanted to be a teacher and played “school” with my stuffed animals. Over time, my experiences and passions altered my goals slightly. Let them learn and make opinions about career paths and future opportunities on their own. These goals could shift once they experience new things or realize they enjoy a subject in school.
4. Practice goal setting: It’s easier for children to achieve their goals when they are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely). The goals should include action steps so they see what is needed to achieve them. Sit down with your teen and help them write out their education goals. Then, discuss with them a plan for how they can achieve them. Keep the list active, checking off achievements and updating check points on a regular basis!
5. Consider the near future: Sometimes teens can seem unconcerned with their future. They may brush off questions or completely change the subject. This is common, you’re not alone. Take small steps. The near future can be a potential summer job or a student group they want to join at school.