“The problem with Generation Z”, many a baby or echo boomer have said, “is that they don’t know how to make up their minds!”
As the parent of a grade 9 learner, you may have even said those words yourself. It’s difficult not to get frustrated by the precarious combination of hormones and indecision that’s always threatening to combust. Yesterday, you were living with a saint and today… it feels like you’re living with the Grinch That Stole Your Teenager. It’s hard, we know. These are trying times.
They Still Need You
In the midst of all this, you need to guide your precious baby as they think about their future. This is despite the fact that they have informed you that they, “like, have it under control” (a declaration delivered with a fresh serving of eye-rolling).
They may try to act cool about it. Or, they may put up a front to ‘prove’ that they know everything. But more often than not, it’s all an act. They’re really a scared daughter or son, putting up a brave face to convince you they know what they’re doing (if only they knew that we’re all winging it. Worry not, we promise not to tell!).
Before they drive you over the edge (or you drive them up the wall), we propose a compromise to help make the transition from grade 9 to the rest of their lives as easy as taking a step forward.
The Best Thing you can do: Assure them you have Confidence in them
Seriously. Nothing does wonders for their confidence like being affirmed by you. It builds trust and assures them that they can tackle anything. Affirmation is important during times of uncertainty. It’s the push that we all often need to take that leap without fear.
Grade 9 Subject Choice: Their Options are Unlimited
The requirements for the National Senior Certificate are seven subjects:
- Four compulsory subjects: two South African languages (one being the language in which they are taught, and the other a first additional language), Mathematics or Mathematical literacy and Life Orientation.
- Three subjects of their choice: these three subjects need to be chosen from the approved subject list and should be subjects which will be useful for their studies after school.
It might seem that their options are limited because they can only take three subjects of their choice. However, in reality, those three subjects, if chosen correctly and carefully, open them up to a world of opportunity.
Take a Step Back
As a parent, your job is to help them to actually look at subject choice as an opportunity that opens up other opportunities. This is opposed to looking at it as something which they will be forced to do for the next three years. These subjects will be the foundation for successful careers. Remember that this career choice ultimately lies with them.
We are not saying that you should leave your child high and dry to make this choice on their own. Rather, act as their support structure; be the voice of reason, the ear that listens and the movement of guidance.
Trust Their Inner Sherlock Holmes
You’ve probably seen how diligent your daughter or son is when they’ve just developed a crush. Sure enough, within a few hours, they’ll know their crush’s name, date of birth, interests, parents’ names and birthdays, ID numbers… So you know that they are capable of being creepy stalkers. More importantly, their investigative skills prove that they are able of doing thorough research when they put their minds to it. You may assist them in getting started, but let them do the bulk of the work.
Remind them that Money is not a good Motivation
This may be hard for you because, at the end of the day, no one wants to see their children struggle financially. Take a minute to think it through: money is not a good criterion to use when choosing a career path. It does not guarantee happiness. More importantly, a profession that is “financially lucrative” will not necessarily yield monetary success.
Fact: there are qualified engineers who have not found work, and there are actors who have made millions. It’s not about the career path; it’s about opportunity meeting endurance, preparation, determination and passion.
It’s okay to take a step back. The good news is that you have provided them with a solid foundation! Release them from your reigns so that they can apply those lessons you’ve taught them. Now is the time to let go and trust. And you know what? They will make mistakes, but that is part of their growth. Support them through it and they (and you) will be fine. We promise.