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Who are you? And what are you going to do

August 15, 2013
Issues facing college bound and retirement age adults are the same

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series.

Q. I’m going to be a junior next year. How can I get my parents to stop asking me, “What do you plan to study in college or do after you graduate?”

A. How many of us have entertained ourselves with the quirky, charming and outrageous answers small children give when asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It’s not so entertaining for teens — faced with major decisions — when they are asked the same things. Parents and other adults ask them the big questions with a greater sense of urgency. Most family members genuinely want to:

Be supportive as younger people hone their choices,

help motivate them when their attention lags and

enthuse with them as they gain clarity in their thinking.

However, those well intended questions can appear intrusive, controlling or just plain nosy to teen’s who aren’t yet sure of their goals or who may have desires conflicting with their parents’ wishes. Those struggles often cause considerable discord in families.

The doing part is, of course, very important. Parents wouldn’t be so insistent about asking if that wasn’t the case.

Perhaps it is the second question — Who do you want to be? That is more important for parents to explore with children: to help them seek understanding about what kind of person they want to become, to cultivate the traits they possess and help develop them more fully and to be catalysts for personal growth in the lives of their children.

What are your strengths?

Have discussions about ethical issues.

Go to a movie, read a book, see an art exhibit and talk about how it moves you.

Parents who assist their children in this way may get fewer complaints and be ahead of the game when it comes to their own ongoing meditation. That’s truly leading by example.

Once a young person has settled on a direction and moves forward in school and career, there often comes a long fallow period when no one asks, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It seems clear to everyone you’ve settled into something and the big questions are no longer necessary. But regardless of a person’s age, the issues of knowing yourself more deeply continue for us all. That can be difficult for any of us to admit to ourselves and even more difficult to admit to someone else. Teens, try talking to others about your emerging self.

Part II focuses on these same issues as they arise for people of retirement age, whether or not they’ve been in the workforce.

Lushe is a clinical therapist serving the Grosse Pointe and St. Clair Shores areas. She works with individuals, couples and families. She can be reached at (586) 774-7779 or mail to: mlushe8710@gmail.com”mlushe8710@gmail.com.

The Family Center serves as the community’s hub for information, resources and referral for both families and professionals. It is a non-profit organization founded to promote a deeper understanding of the role of parents and others in supporting youth to become competent, caring and responsible community members and fulfilling the belief of eriched communities through stronger families.

All gifts are tax-deductible.

To volunteer or contribute, visit familycenterweb.org or call (313) 432.3832.

E-mail questions to info@familycenterweb.org or write to: The Family Center, 20090 Morningside Drive, Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236.

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