How do you talk to your teen about the future?

As teens go through the challenges of adolescence, one of the important jobs parents have is to prepare them for the future. Teens have to make choices that will affect them as adults, and they may encounter situations that can have a serious impact on their future. Parents have to make their teens realize that their behavior and the decisions they make, whether personal, social or academic, as well as the values and beliefs that they develop as they grow into adulthood, all have an effect on their future. Teens need their parents' advice and support as they face tough decisions and learn to solve problems.

What will your teen decide to do after high school? Some teens may decide that they don't want to go straight to college; they may want to work or take time off to travel. Encourage your teen to put goals and accomplishments down in writing. Parents should help teens define short-term as well as long-term goals. Guide your teens by discussing basic values; listen to their thoughts and encourage them to ask questions. Discuss the future and their options as you ask them questions to point them toward assessing themselves, their wants and abilities. Talk to your teens about what interests them, what they enjoy doing in their spare time, favorite classes at school, summer jobs that they have had and enjoyed. Explore career and work options, and do research together. Teens should learn to define their expectations and know to pinpoint the characteristics of the college or job they are looking for. Help teens define and elaborate on their skills and talents, and offer alternatives if a college education is not in their immediate plans.


Encourage your teens, look at the pros and cons of everything without criticizing, and let them know you love them, respect their choices and want them to be happy.