Q. What, if anything, can parents of high-school-age children do to guide them toward their true professional calling?
A. Some parents are apt to put pressure on their children about choosing a first career, thinking that it will determine the course of their lives. Yet as adults, we often reinvent ourselves more than once, moving among professions. So whatever your children choose now won’t necessarily define their future.
“I see many teens who jump on the first career track that someone recommends just to avoid being directionless, only to find themselves miserable a few years later,” said Tamar E. Chansky, a child-and-adolescent psychologist in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., and author of “Freeing Your Child From Anxiety.”
Ms. Chansky says it’s best to have conversations with teenagers about their strengths and interests, rather than a specific career, and then to listen to what they have to say. “If the parent is putting out all the ideas, you wind up with the parent’s dream, not the kid’s,” she said.