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When Your Parents Don’t Approve of Your Career Path, Do These 5 Things

Topics: Career Advice
parents don't approve
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It’s only natural for children to want their parents’ approval … even when those children are legally adults. But, not everyone is lucky enough to have a vision for their lives that aligns with what their parents want.

Many young adults decide to follow a career course that goes against the wishes of their parents. This can add additional challenges and pressures along the way. If you’ve made the decision to follow your own heart despite the fact that your parents disapprove of your career choices, there are a few important tips to consider.

1. Consciously separate your opinions from theirs.

Our opinions and values are initially developed within the context of our family life. However, we hone our own beliefs as we grow older. It can be a disorienting process. So, take the time to consciously consider why you want to pursue this career path, and separate your view from your parents’.

For example, perhaps you want to work as a chemist. You feel that the work is interesting and valuable. But, your parents worry that it requires too much schooling. You could confuse their opinions with your own if you don’t take the time to consciously separate them.

Isolate your beliefs from your parents’, and when you hear that little voice inside saying, “I feel like I should be working, not going to school,” you’ll know where it’s coming from. You’ll have an easier time following your own wisdom if you take the time to consciously process everyone’s opinions, including your own.

2. Provide information.

Take the time for a good long talk with your folks about your chosen career path. Be sure to do your homework in advance so that you’re ready for the conversation.

Perhaps your parents disapprove of your choice because they don’t really understand it. Help to bring them along by answering any and all questions they might have. Provide them with information as needed.

You might be pleasantly surprised by the outcome. The chat should at least help them to recognize your passion and commitment to this path.

3. Get really into it.

Don’t let your parents’ lack of support dim your own enthusiasm. Keep loving what you’re doing — and work hard. It might help shift your parents’ perspective when they see your passion translate into hard work and eventual success.

Or, it might not. Either way, allow yourself to have the full experience of loving what you do. Emotions are contagious. So, be joyful as you walk this path. You’ll benefit from this approach no matter how your folks respond to it.

4. Prepare to support yourself.

You’ll likely face some additional challenges and difficulties if your parents don’t approve of your career choices. It will help to prepare yourself for the fact that you might not be getting much support from them.

Be sure you have a plan for how to support yourself financially as pursue your chosen career path. Anticipate a lack of emotional support, too. Perhaps they will come around at some point, but you shouldn’t count on it. If you prepare for a lack of support, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with anything positive they do contribute instead of feeling frequently disappointed.

5. Find a mentor.

It helps to have people who are understanding and supportive. Everyone needs this when beginning a new career, whether their parents are on board or not. You don’t need a formal mentor, either. These relationships can, and often do, develop naturally. And, the mentor/mentee relationship can exist outside of a formal structure.

The trick is to find someone (or, better yet, a few people) with ample experience working in your field that you respect and feel comfortable with. Then, ask them questions. Use the resource. You have the potential to learn so much, and receive so much encouragement, from developing relationships with others in your field.

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