Junior High and High School can be very demanding academically and emotionally, and for some kids – particularly very focused, academic-minded kids – it can be difficult to imagine a life after Grade 12, or a life after post-secondary. Some kids know early on what they want to do with their lives. Others take longer to figure it out, and that’s perfectly fine. Even if they’re not building towards a specific career, though, they have to know that it’s still important to learn, explore, and develop their internal resources so that they are equipped to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. When the right job, post-secondary program, relationship, charitable cause, travel opportunity, or stroke of luck comes along, your child will need to muster all of their competencies, lived experience, and sense of self to recognize it and make the most of it.
There’s a reason that this asset is #40, the final one on the list. A positive view of one’s personal future is the end result of the supports, empowerment, boundaries and expectations, constructive use of time, commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies, and positive identity represented by the other 39 developmental assets. Because you’ve taken such good care of your kids, supported them, empowered them, held them to a high standard of achievement and behaviour, modeled honesty and kindness, taught them positive values and helped them take advantage of opportunities for personal growth, they probably have a very positive view of their futures by now. Why not check in?
- Talk to your kids about who they are, how they feel about themselves, and what kind of life they want. Ask them about their long-term aspirations and dreams, and help them to start thinking concretely about how to make them real.
- Make sure your teens are thinking about post-secondary education and/or career options. Try to set them up with adult mentors who are successful in the fields in which your kids are interested. If they’re not sure what they want to do for a career, try to help them identify their passions. What makes them feel satisfied and happy? Perhaps they have a cherished hobby that could be turned into a career. Perhaps they love to work with animals, or young children, or the needy. What are they doing that’s creative or productive? There’s usually a way to go pro.
RECOMMENDED READING: Just When I Needed You: True Stories of Adults Who Made a Difference in the Lives of Young People by Deborah Fisher.
Search Institute has identified 40 building blocks of healthy development, known as Developmental Assets, that help adolescents to grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. Visit us here every Wednesday to read about different ways that you, your family, and your community can take action to help equip our young people develop resilience and achieve success in life.