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Family Scripts: Career Barriers For Teenagers

 

You know how your parents always say they just want you to be happy with whatever career you choose? Well, that's usually what they believe, but it's a bit more complicated than that. See, every family has a sort of hidden "script" about work. It's like a playbook that's been passed down, sometimes without even realizing it.

For example, let's say your mom or dad is a teacher. You might hear a lot about how rewarding it is to educate young minds. But if your parent is in finance, you might hear about how cool it is to work with big numbers and make big deals. This "family script" doesn't just show you what jobs exist; it can also make you feel like some jobs are better than others, even if nobody says that out loud.

It's totally natural to feel a pull towards making your family proud when it comes to your career choice. The "family script" isn't necessarily a bad thing; it's often a well-intended guide born out of your parents' own experiences and perspectives. They usually share what they know, aiming to steer you toward stability and fulfillment. But remember, what worked for them in a different time and context might not be the perfect fit for you.

The thing is, you're growing up in a world that's changing super fast. Careers are evolving, and new opportunities are popping up all the time. Your folks might not even be aware of these options or understand their potential. Plus, you've got your own interests and talents to consider. Let's say you're passionate about environmental science, but there's no one in your family with a related job. You might face some raised eyebrows when you bring it up at the dinner table. But that shouldn't deter you from exploring it further.

Then there's the aspect of social norms, like the stereotypical "real men" or "real women" jobs. These unspoken expectations can silently influence your choices. While your parents might say they support equality, old stereotypes can unconsciously seep into conversations or expectations. Also see our article Understanding the Influence of Your Mom's Career on Your Future Choices: A Guide for Teenage Girls .

But here's the real talk: Your family usually wants the best for you, even if they don't fully grasp what that means in your case. So, if you find that your aspirations don't line up with the family script, it's okay to pave your own path. This might involve some tough conversations, but it's all part of the process. Keep in mind that your family's initial skepticism often comes from a place of love and concern, not a desire to hold you back.

You can make your family proud by being true to yourself, and in the long run, they'll likely respect you for forging your own successful path, even if it diverges from theirs.

 

Questions To Consider 

It's your life, not theirs. It's okay to rewrite the script to fit what really matters to you.

  • What Careers Are Common in My Family? Think about the jobs your parents, grandparents, or other close family members have. Do you notice any patterns or trends? Understanding what's common can help you see if you're being nudged in a certain direction.
  • How Do My Family's Opinions Affect My Choices? When you talk about career ideas, what kind of feedback do you get from your family? Do they get excited about some options and gloss over others? This can give you clues about what they think is "acceptable" or "good" for you.
  • Are There Jobs I've Never Considered Because of My Family? Are there careers you've never thought about because no one in your family has done them, or because they've outright said it's not a good path? Question why that is and whether it's a limitation you want to challenge.
  • Do I Feel Pressure to Follow a Certain Path to Please My Family? Sometimes the need to make your family happy or proud can steer you toward a career you're not passionate about. Are you considering certain jobs mainly because you think it's what your family wants for you?

More Resources

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Careers That Matter provides online programs to teenagers across the globe. The organisation is based in Melbourne Australia. We have students from across Australia including Sydney, NSW 2000, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Brisbane, QLD 4000, Perth, WA 6000, Adelaide, SA 5000, Hobart, TAS 7000, Canberra, ACT 2600, Darwin, NT 0800. We also take students from The United Kingdom including London, Europe, and the United States including New York , Canada, New Zealand including Auckkland and Wellington, and Asia including Singapore and Malaysia.