ERIC Identifier: ED279991
Publication Date: 1986-00-00
Author: Herbert, Deborah
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Counseling and Personnel Services Ann Arbor MI.
Career Guidance, Families and School Counselors. Highlights: An
Recent national surveys indicate that career guidance is a major issue
for American families. In Gallup polls, for example, parents report that helping
their children choose a career is their second most pressing concern. For the
general public, understanding the world of work and making realistic plans for
after high school are the third and sixth most important goals of education.
Students themselves, according to more than 33,000 sampled in 1973 and 1983
by the American College Testing Program, have increased their involvement in
career planning activities. Among the eighth and eleventh graders in the 1983
study, over 70 percent said they want even more help with making career plans.
Yet despite the primary role that parents play in children's career development,
school counseling programs show little evidence of tapping into this resource
(Birk & Blimline, 1984; Daniels, Karmos, & Presley, 1983; Noeth, Engen,
& Noeth, 1984; Otto, 1984; Otto & Call, 1985; Prediger & Sawyer,
In short, career guidance has a top priority with parents, the general public
and high school students. Continuing and further assistance appears to be
needed, and a collaborative effort between schools and families could help meet
the need. This digest briefly considers the following issues relevant to this
effort: family determinants of children's career development, stages of
children's career development, counselor guidelines for starting parent
programs, and counselor interventions to utilize family influence.
FAMILY DETERMINANTS OF CHILDREN'S CAREER DEVELOPMENT
The major family determinants of children's career development can be
categorized as follows: geographic location, genetic inheritance, family
background, socio-economic status, family composition, parenting style, and
parental attitudes toward work (Splete & Freeman-George, 1985). Authorities
in psychology and career development believe that parents are the most crucial
factor in the formation of children's personalities and self-concept, and that
career choices can be regarded as the "implementation" of these qualities
(McDaniels & Hummel, 1984). As children make self-assessments and receive
feedback from significant others, they form educational aspirations. These in
turn are a primary influence on educational achievement, the level of which is
the single most important determinant of eventual occupational achievement
STAGES OF CHILDREN'S CAREER DEVELOPMENT
In the early years of career development three basic stages occur: (1)
awareness, up to age 11, when children believe they can do whatever they like
and transform needs and desires into occupational preferences; (2) exploration,
ages 11-17, when tentative choices are made on the basis of interests, abilities
and values; and (3) preparation, age 17 to young adulthood, when actual choices
are made that strike a balance between personal capabilities and such factors as
educational and employment opportunities and job requirements (McDaniels &
Hummel, 1984). Stereotypes and prejudices about the appropriateness of certain
careers may need to be challenged throughout this process.
COUNSELOR GUIDELINES FOR STARTING PARENT PROGRAMS
School counselors can start involving parents in career guidance by creating
a parent resource library, distributing lists of practical suggestions, and
calling a parent group meeting to get the program off the ground. Laramore
(1984) offers some practical guidelines for insuring the success of the
1. Find someone to run the program who knows about the subject and is a
clear, enthusiastic speaker.
2. Advertise the program as the parents' role in their children's educational
and career future. If only "career" is mentioned, parents who expect their
children to go to college are unlikely to attend.
3. Don't be discouraged if only two parents come the first time. Pretend it's
a roomful and give it your all. The second year, there will be 50 parents; the
third, 150, and so on.
4. Elementary and middle school/junior high parents often don't realize that
this is the time to begin. Therefore, in the publicity, use phrases like, "Now
is the time to start your child on her/his successful future."
COUNSELOR INTERVENTIONS TO UTILIZE FAMILY INFLUENCE
Counselors can provide direct services to parents and children, both
separately and together, as well as indirect services through classroom
teachers, school and community committees, and a variety of activities. Useful
examples include the following:
1. Conduct parent study groups. Counselors can help parents understand their
role in children's career development, the general growth and development of
their children, and the relationship between the career guidance program and the
total school program. Specifically, parents need up-to-date, accurate
information about the following: changing career choices and broadened options
for males and females, educational opportunities, wage and salary statistics,
the importance and stages of career planning, barriers to the career development
process, career resources in the school and community, myths in sex-role
stereotyping, sex equity laws, and ways to improve communication skills (Birk
& Blimline, 1984).
2. Coordinate parent resources. Programs can be developed in which parents
serve as mini-course instructors or resource persons in the classroom, teacher
aides on field trips, members of advisory committees, technical advisors to
counselors and teachers on developing simulated work settings, and members of
curriculum development committees. Counselors can also assist parents in
assuming liaison roles between the school and the working community, especially
in the parents' own places of employment (Navin & Sears, 1980).
3. Organize career activities for families. Career nights appear to be one of
the most popular activities at the high school level, although some authorities
in career development question the value of a single event in a process that
occurs over a number of years. Additional suggestions include parent/student
workshops to facilitate career discussions, self-directed career centers for use
by both parents and children, and student/parent handbooks for personal
educational and vocational planning (Castricone, Finan, & Gumble, 1982;
Daniels, et al., 1983).
4. Conduct student sessions on family influence. For many students, as they
begin to deal with issues of autonomy and independence, it is important to sort
out family influences on their career development. Counselors can help in this
process through a variety of techniques that are suitable for individual and
group counseling or for coursework. These include: family systems review,
paradigms of family interaction, family sculpting/choreography, family
constellation diagrams, occupational family trees, and "advice, advice, and more
advice"--an exploration of parental work values (Splete & Freeman-George,
Research has already demonstrated that comprehensive career guidance programs
can provide students with basic economic understandings, skills in understanding
themselves and educational/occupational opportunities, and skills in overcoming
bias and stereotyping. Evidence is also promising that students can acquire
increases in basic academic skills, a desire to work, career decisionmaking
skills, and job-seeking/finding/getting/ holding skills (Hoyt, 1984). Through
collaborative efforts in career guidance, counselors can help parents influence
their children's career development more effectively and wisely, and together
they may all succeed in turning the promises of research into reality.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Birk, J. M. and C. A. Blimline. "Parents as Career Development Facilitators:
An Untapped Resource for the Counselor." THE SCHOOL COUNSELOR 31(4)
Castricone, A. M., W. W. Finan, and S. K. Gumble. "Focus on Career Search: A
Program for High School Students and Their Parents." THE SCHOOL COUNSELOR 29(5)
Daniels, M. H., J. S. Karmos, and C. A. Presley. PARENTS AND PEERS: THEIR
IMPORTANCE IN THE CAREER DECISION MAKING PROCESS. Carbondale, IL: Southern
Illinois University, 1983. ED 252 704.
Hoyt, K. B. "Helping Parents Understand Career Education." JOURNAL OF CAREER
EDUCATION 10(4) (1984):216-224.
Laramore, D. "Parents' Role in the Education and Career Decision-making
Process." JOURNAL OF CAREER EDUCATION 10(4) (1984): 214-215.
McDaniels, C. and D. Hummel. "Parents and Career Education." JOURNAL OF
CAREER EDUCATION 10(4) (1984):225-233.
Navin, S. L. and S. J. Sears. "Parental Roles in Elementary Career Guidance."
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL GUIDANCE AND COUNSELING 14(4) (1980):268-277.
Noeth, R. J., H. B. Engen, and P. E. Noeth. "Making Career Decisions: A
Self-report of Factors That Help High School Students." THE VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE
QUARTERLY 32(4) (1984):240-248.
Otto, L. B. "Bringing Parents Back In." JOURNAL OF CAREER EDUCATION 10(4)
Otto, L. B. and V. R. A. Call. "Parental Influence on Young People's Career
Development." JOURNAL OF CAREER DEVELOPMENT 12(1) (1984):65-69.
Prediger, D. J. and R. L. Sawyer. TEN YEARS OF STUDENT CAREER DEVELOPMENT: A
NATIONWIDE STUDY. Paper presented at the convention of the American Association
for Counseling and Development, New York, April 1985. ED 261 182.
Splete, H., and A. Freeman-George. "Family Influences on Career Development
of Young Adults." JOURNAL OF CAREER DEVELOPMENT 12(1) (1985):55-64.