My son is 12 years old and is beginning to think about college and career choices. The types of careers that seem to interest him (aerospace engineer) do not seem to match the ability he’s showing in his schoolwork (B’s in Science, C’s in Math). He seems to have a talent for writing and drawing.
I don’t want to discourage him from pursuing his dreams, but I want to be realistic. I also wonder if he’s considering these types of careers because his Dad is an engineer.
Can I help to guide my son in choosing the career that would be best for him?
I think we mothers often underestimate our children. We want to protect them from disappointment, and fear seems to dominate our feelings more than an adventuresome spirit. I know when my son Ammon announced in his freshman year of high school that he wanted to play the violin, I had to zip my lips. I had so many reasons (late start as most kids begin string lessons at the latest in Jr. High school, expense of trying out a rental instrument that he might lose interest in, he already had piano lessons and I would like him to stick with one thing, it seemed whimsical since his interest resided in the fact that both Jefferson and Einstein had played violin, etc.). I had to struggle not to let my fears rise and take over. I am relieved to say that I helped him rent the instrument, and moved forward. He only had 3 other beginning students in his class when the semester began. After just 4 months of playing, he was able to play with the intermediate orchestra in their concert! Why? Because when we trust children to follow their interests, there is a high degree of motivation on their part. I was frankly amazed he learned to play. He is motivated to practice without a word from me. He is progressing rapidly. I am SO glad I did not open my mouth and voice my concerns. The violin has become his favorite subject and a source of joy to him!
I also have a son who did not do well in math. He is currently graduating with a Mechanical Engineering degree from a challenging university and has a job waiting. Was the math hard? Yes, very. But, he was motivated to learn it, because understanding it was a stepping stone to the work he loves.
Even if your son does not end up in Aerospace Engineering, it is a discovery he will have to make and come to terms with. He may press on, like my son did, through the difficult subjects that he did not enjoy, to get to the goal, or he may decide it doesn’t suit his interests. In any case, it is up to him to make that observation and decision. Of course, he will choose what his Dad does, but he is just 12. By 16 or 17, he may start to ask himself what is right for him, apart from his Dad’s occupation. No worries. This is part of the growing up process. He may try on several “hats” before settling on the right fit.
The best way to choose his career is to try many things, be exposed to many fields of interests, so he can discover across his niche in the process. Make sure he gets hands-on, first hand exposure. Going to work with Dad (when he is older, perhaps 16-18 years) may help him know if he would enjoy that work. I know one teacher who worked at getting the career he wanted, only to be taken by complete surprise when he actually landed the teaching job. The students were unruly and would not respect nor listen and learn. He was so frustrated to have a degree and hate the job.
Be sure to teach him to listen to his heart. I truly believe that God has a special mission for each person to perform, and equips them with the drive and/or the gifts to do it. If he prays and listens to his feelings, he will discover his unique gift to give to the world through his career.
He is fortunate to have such a concerned, helpful mother!
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