NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Kids need information to make good decisions. This is particularly true when it comes to careers. Without exposure to ideas and options they tend to either avoid making the decision or, more often than not, they select a career direction on a whim which has little basis in genuine interest or ability.
As parents, conversations with our kids about careers can be frustrating for a number of obvious reasons. Typically, we approach the conversation as an afterthought ("hey, maybe I need to talk about this stuff before it's too late"), or as a problem ("my kid isn't motivated or is lacking in direction"). Rarely do we look at this as an opportunity or as a proactive step. Likely because many of us didn't have a career plan for ourselves or because the path seemed obvious. Or, alternatively, our kids' reaction will be unpredictable; heightened sensitivity that leads to an argument or radio silence.
But as high school and college graduations approach and the kids prepare to leave for school or to enter the real world, now may be the best time to talk about careers. Not to establish deadlines or conditions but, rather, to plant seeds and to encourage.
Here are six recommendations on how to have the "career" talk:
1. Ask open ended questions. When we ask a yes or no question, we should expect a yes or no response. Do you have a career plan? No. A career goal? No. A resume? No. Quickly we reach a dead end. Instead, think about what would motivate you to talk and to explore creatively if you were in their shoes. Questions like: When you consider jobs and careers what sorts of things come to mind? Or: Tell me about what courses you most enjoy. I wonder what people who enjoy those courses can do professionally? Or: When you and your friends talk about jobs and careers what most interests you? The goal is simply to get them to think and, over time, begin to establish a career identity.