Teen Career Choice and Failure Breeds Success

Written By: Kim - Oct• 16•11

I recently had a conversation with several girlfriends about our kids. Interim reports were out that day from school. While some of us were elated that our children were applying themselves and bringing home good grades, others were distraught. The conversation then moved to a friend who’s high school junior doesn’t know what she wants to do. The Mom was worried because the two younger children that followed already had career plans. I wish I would have mentioned my story to her.

It’s been a long time since I decided I wanted to be a doctor. At the tender age of 12, I knew I wanted to be a pediatrician. I loved kids but hated math, science and biology: core courses required for doctors. Even in high school, these subjects were ones I constantly struggled with. If I brought home a B, I considered it success.

I continued on my chosen career path because this had been my dream since I was 12. Why would I change it? The dream lasted until the first semester of college, where I took calculus 1, biology 101 and English 101. The only class I passed, even with a tutor, was English. In my defense, my tutor was a guy I had a crush on since sixth grade. I should have know it would not end well for me. But this was a turning point in my life. I just didn’t know it yet.

Let me repeat that: The kid who wanted to be a doctor since she was 12 did not pass her freshman courses required for a premed major. What now?

©Moi Cody, courtesy of stock.xchang

I moved on to something I thought I could handle since I was working part-time retail: business. Have you ever sat through an accounting class? Ick. Not for me.

The fall of my sophomore year, I took a speech communications class. My rudder came in the form of my professor who said I excelled in his class and should consider a journalism major. I graduated with a double major in journalism and public relations. I then went on, six years later, to get a master’s in publications design. Publishing was my career path and I don’t regret it.

If I had listened to my Mother, I would have been a prelaw major. She said I should be a lawyer since I loved to argue so much. She never would live long enough to see me work with 29,000 corporate lawyers, most of whom do not love to argue. Even the law firm litigators I speak with get tired of the circus wheel and move in-house. There is just too much stress in always being on and geared up for a fight.

So why, as parents, are we so worried about our teenager’s career choice? They haven’t even had a part-time job yet, but we focus so much on what they will do long term. Many people major in something, get their first after-college job and realize they hate what they do. They adjust and figure out how to use their degree in a new way. They network. They go to graduate school to pursue something else. They find their passion through experience.

The type A in me has a tough time not obsessing over my children’s career choices.

The Mom in me wants them to experience different jobs, internships and workplaces so they can find their passion.

The former teenager in me remembers three majors in college and it all turned out ok.



A Cyber Bully Intrudes on Our Family

Written By: Kim - Oct• 08•11

It was a quiet Friday night at our local bookstore. My kids were in the cafe with their laptops while I attended Nook Nite. When we left the store, my daughter told me that she had to show me her Facebook page when we got home. And, boy did she. Someone chatted with her and the messages were nasty. I am talking street corner, foul-mouthed, your-sailor-friend-would-blush nasty.

The cyber bully had used someone else’s account to chat my daughter. We promptly took a screen shot and sent it over to the school’s resource officer, principal and guidance counselor. My husband asked me to let him handle it. For those of you who know me well, this was extremely difficult for me.

My daughter avoided her Facebook account all weekend while I kept an eye on it, just in case. My daughter was sure it was not the girl she was already friends with.

Around lunchtime on Monday, we received a note back from the school’s resource officer saying that they had interviewed my daughter and reviewed the material we provided. Despite this information, the school administration said, “There is no school involvement. By that, there were no statements made at school or mention of something to happen at school.” They suggested we keep the message and contact the police. This answer is a non answer, so we pushed back.

Apparently, the administration was unaware that I work for 28,000 corporate lawyers. I read and comprehend legal articles, contracts, policies and handbooks extremely well. I sent the student code of conduct over to my husband pointing out page five and referencing the section on cyber bullying. Once he read the section, he then contacted the school again letting the resource officer know that his wife works with 100 lawyers (ok, given my social media contacts, that number is not nearly high enough, but my office really has about 10 lawyers on staff). He then said that my lawyers reviewed the cyber bullying section of the student code of conduct and would ask that the school review the section again because it has just cause to continue to investigate this case. Here is what they found:

The girl who was Facebook friends with my daughter did not write the messages. She had a friend over at her house who was on her computer and account without her knowing. She let the school know who the child was. The cyber bully had used a fake name in her message to my daughter. My poor child spent all weekend trying to place this girl, wondering how she knew her.

Cyber bullying is something that no other generation had to grow up with or parent. Parents need a better arsenal if they are going to be prepared for this.

  1. Make sure your child can tell you anything. Although I monitor my children’s online accounts, I am not on them daily. This chat could have been easily overlooked if my daughter had not alerted me.
  2. Do not hesitate to contact school authorities and push for resolution. Schools will most likely take the path of least resistance. Don’t take it personally. They have thousands of kids to handle. But remember that you are your child’s advocate.
  3. Make sure school authorities contact the parents or guardian. So what if the child gets “sent to the office.” Make sure an adult in their life is contacted. Sometimes this is all it takes to stop a child’s destructive behavior, especially when they are younger and can still be influenced by their parents or guardians.
  4. Push your state to create anti-bullying laws to protect children. In our community, we could not even file a police report. Why? Because we do not have any anti-bullying laws. But make sure the laws actually have teeth to them. The local police told my husband and daughter there was nothing they could do because this was not under their jurisdiction.
Punks are everywhere. It’s up to the community, be it parents, family, guardians or friends to let children know that bullying a child is never acceptable. What you say online is just as important as what you say in person.
Post script: It’s been almost a week since this cyberbully’s parent was contacted by the school. To date, we have not received a phone call issuing an apology. I am mortified.