My original article was first published on the Good Men Project!
Most of us dads jack up the sex talk and never have the career talk. That’s right. We concentrate on just talking about sex without helping them to have good sex. Or even, to perform like we’ve been there before. I mean to do all the right things to do before sex includes having the right kind of relationship, treating his partner the right way, being optimally considerate throughout. This means many things to many men, and although the means to an end is targeted towards marriage in my household, you can find multiple applications in this discussion.
Now, you’re thinking that the career talk is sending them to college or trade school, and telling them to find a job is the career talk. My argument is you couldn’t be farther from reality than our dads were with us. Today’s job search is complex, and many of the old rules don’t exist. The sex and career talk are complicated and requires an ongoing discussion with both parents whenever possible.
As the parental units, we need to stop the madness our parents passed on to us:
- Telling them the world is theirs, but limiting “acceptable” career choices
- Living our career aspirations vicariously through our children (it should be a sin)
- Not know their heart’s desire but only know what you want
- Lacking the tolerance of them changing their minds even if it’s 20 times between high school and college
- College is not for everybody and anybody. We can argue the worth of a college degree later. It’s not a bad idea to explore organizations to get your son career ready
- There’s no sin in your son to major in film school, liberal arts, or classical music majors
The career talk is as complicated as the sex talk. Although, with our son, it’s the relationship talk and both are related in this way: The better the relationship optimizes the physical engagement. Yet, as a family, we want to emphasize the results when the relationship building is the most critical. As fathers, we have an ugly assignment when talking about sex. As a teen, I grew up with my Aunt, she explained how beautiful sex is but I was so lost because I didn’t know how to get there or recognize it when I got there.
In the same spirit we need to change the dialogue about careers need to apply to the sex talk:
- Relationship and sex are not synonymous
- Sex is just an act
- We never talk about sex (I don’t want to know)
Hopefully, you started early with the sex talk in talking about good touches and bad touches. Why not have the talk about doing work and getting a job? In my opinion, it is an entirely different discussion than “chores.”
Careers are talked about in the same way. We’re told the world is ours, and we can be anything but we were lost in conducting a fruitful job search. It’s difficult for young people to connect to how disconnected employers are intentional with job seekers. Employers set-up this wall of security for them (not for you) called the Automated Tracking System (ATS) to filter out the unqualified human beings. Many large companies are using computers and robots to do the work for them. Relationships are the best chance to reach and engage humans:
Relationships are required for the long path of support and renewed faith of who are? When we lose jobs, or a relationship we wonder are we the same person or have we lost our way. Assessment tests don’t read our eyes, listen to our tones, or judge our behavior. Nor can they put a reassuring hand on our shoulder, tell us it’s alright, or reignite the faith we lose. I was a slow learner when it came to relationships, obtuse in my understanding of them, but thrived when I valued them both professionally and personally.
2) Both talks keep them accountable in ways that matter most
If you are just teaching them about sex, as you are teaching how to get a job, where are you leading them? A great career as in a great relationship is a continued learning. Much of the best lessons are from failure. As a parent, you can’t protect them all of the time. You can manage his expectations through helping them value relationships. The best talks with my first son and I had with his first job were immediately when he came home from work. We focused on his working relationships, not the work incidents. This made a difference in how he has navigated his search for other opportunities.
3) Both talks deepes our relationship with our sons
Our sons will feel weird about talking about either sex or career. Once my oldest (and now my youngest son) starts to trust because of his experiences, triumphs, errors and even failure, he is more open to deepen any part of the ongoing dialogue. We need patience in order for them to absorb all we say contrary to their peers, but he will rebound and adapt parts if not all we share. If he rejects it, don’t worry, he will grow into what makes sense for them. In most cases, the bonding will infuse your world with his, which will mean much to both of you.
4) It’s the catalyst for healthy relationships and life
Getting a job, or just having sex solely for the act has a long-term low expectation of meaningful success (if that’s your definition). The sex talk these days about sustaining the right relationship, education, and respect. The career talk today is not just getting a job, but navigating and building a meaningful career throughout several opportunities, not one long stand with one company (that’s not bad, it is rare for an individual to do so).