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As a mother of three, I was able to relate to some of the concerns they had. I come from a generation where women had two choices to make: choose a safe career or none at all. Inevitably, I want to pave a different path for both my daughters and my son. So, I set out on a journey to outline the tools for success in today’s professional world and how other likeminded parents can prepare their children for a fulfilling career. My journey led me to identifying the following tips:
1. Instill the importance of networking: We tell our kids not to talk to strangers and instill that fear in them from a young age. The ability to talk to others (including people we have never met) is an important skill. The next time your children go to a birthday party, encourage them to have a conversation with many people. Teach them to ask smart questions or make smart observations. Therefore, instead of telling them not to talk to strangers, teach them to be smart about talking to strangers.
2. Expose them to a world of experiences: They say humans are the most creative when they are in kindergarten. Why? This is because they are fearless at that age and view the world in a fascinating way. As they grow, parents put many boundaries around them. Limit those boundaries. Always remember to embrace their creativity and let them explore by pursuing experiences they enjoy. If your child enjoys playing with rocks, embrace that interest and let them explore the world of rocks. If they drop that interest and move to something else then, follow along. These experiences will help develop unique skillsets that might be transferrable in an occupation they choose.
3. Avoid solving all their problems: Some South Asian parents are naturally over protective of their kids. When our children fail, we feel obliged to solve their problems for them. But as adults, we know that when we face problems it forces us to be better problem solvers. And when we face failures, the strong willed people take it as a life lesson and keep forging ahead. So by teaching our children about the cycles of success and failure, we arm them with the knowledge to take calculated risks without the fear of failing. Therefore, instead of solving all their problems, we must allow our children to face challenges and support their unique ways of overcoming them.
4. Teach them the art of negotiation: If you are the kind of parent that says “Cause I told you so”– Please stop! Let your children negotiate with you about their allowance, birthday gift or the amount the tooth fairy really owes them. As a hiring manager, I often see young professionals struggle to negotiate salary or other terms. This is a skill that has to be learned over the years.
5. Let them choose their own major: Can you imagine sending ducks to a school meant for eagles? It sounds unreasonable, right? This is what will happen when you choose an educational path for your children against their will. Ducks and eagles have their unique strengths and just like that your children are unique and have been gifted with unique strengths. Know their strengths and empower them to find a path that will enhance their strengths. As a manager, I focus on how to enhance my team’s strengths. It is crucial to use the same principle as a parent.
Consciously allowing children to embrace experiences, navigate through failures, and take opportunities to negotiate and network, will ensure that they break away from societal limitations. Together we have the power to build a generation of innovative, resilient and forward thinking professionals. Together we can elicit a confident, fulfilling and remarkable response to the age old question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Anu is a mom of triplets who strives to achieve success in the area of work and home. She envisions that having a fruitful career doesn’t require giving up on being there for her family. In fact if you have a fulfilling career you can be a good role model for your children. In essence, she joined CTPA as the Board of Director for Membership Strategy, so that she can help build a platform for both emerging and seasoned professionals to surround themselves with like minded individuals who can support each other, challenge the myths about careers and work together to build strong career profiles.