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Welcome to Space4Careers, the blog of the Centre for Career & Personal Development at Canterbury Christ Church University. This blog does what it says on the tin, it provides an opportunity for anyone who is interested in all aspects of careers work to find a little bit of space in their busy lives to think about current issues and trends. If you like or dislike, agree or disagree with what you see, please respond and let us have your views. We'd love to hear from you.

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Canterbury Christ Church University.

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Thursday, 30 September 2010

A common enemy?

I recently had a conversation with a colleague who works in a youth work setting. I explained my own interest in working with parents and carers in careers education and guidance and how, in my experience, this was a really tricky area. The difficulties seem to stem from some key issues that my colleague also recognised.

First there is the client centred approach that we all subscribe to. However, even if a parent or carer is not present in the class room (a rare occurrence I’ll admit) or in a guidance interview (less rare but not as common as some years ago) their influence, beliefs, expectations and input are most definitely there in the voice and attitudes of the young person themselves. The young person may not be aware of this and may believe themselves to be acting independently, and so might we.

Secondly there are our own attitudes and perspectives as professionals to the parents and carers of our clients. I can recall my reactions when a parent accompanied a young person in a guidance interview; a range of feelings from dread and anxiousness to warm collaboration depending upon the parent and the young person. Some parents might take over the interview so that the young person can’t get a word in. Others were defensive, demanding and even aggressive. However many were there because of their genuine concerns about their child, and a need to understand more about their options and next steps.

I have heard teachers voice similar tales and it may be that other professionals who work with children and young people share their concerns. However there is one thing of which I am sure; avoidance of engaging with parents is not an option. Their influence is there whether we choose to engage with it or not and the sooner we acknowledge this the sooner we will begin to find ways in which parents can be included in the tapestry that is the guidance process.

If you have comments or thoughts on this please let us know.
Anne Chant

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