Planning for the future with your teenager

Image of a teenage boy working as a barista.

Did you know that your teen is likely to have up to 17 different employers across five careers during their working life? It can be super-competitive to get a job, and teens can feel there are a lot of expectations on them to succeed. The current workforce is so different from when you were a teenager, and navigating it can be pretty tricky. It’s even more difficult if you’re struggling with these things yourself – we’re all experiencing a recession, not just teenagers.

The future of work has never been more uncertain – it’s estimated that by 2030, 70 per cent of entry-level jobs will have been replaced or transformed by automation. This new world of work, combined with uncertainty around finances and other aspects of their future, might make your teen feel pretty stressed. Despite all this uncertainty, you can help your teen stay positive about the future while validating how they feel.

This can help if you want to:

  • understand your teen's concerns about the future

  • learn about the stressors of work ad money

  • help your teen stay positive about the future.

What concerns do teenagers have about the future?

  • academic pressure and expectations

  • inability to find a job and be able to move out of home

  • inability to work in their ideal career

  • possibility of losing their job and being unable to find a new one

  • mental health concerns

  • losing touch with their friends

  • global issues, such as environmental concerns, pandemics, world conflicts, overpopulation.

How can I help my teen with work and finances?

Helping your teen with their work and money concerns is a bit like being in the passenger seat of a car: you can support and encourage them, but it’s important to remember that they are the one in the driver’s seat. While we can navigate and ‘hold the map’, it’s up to them to put in the hard yards of applying for jobs, doing up their resume, etc. However, it can be tricky to take this step back, especially when you really want your teen to succeed. Here are some ways to provide practical support:

  • Talk to them about their expectations around work and money, and whether they are realistic or not.

  • Support them to get a job, and remind them that knock-backs and rejections aren’t the end of the world.

  • Help them to build good money habits and learn how to budget.

  • Encourage them to volunteer for a cause they are passionate about, as a way to keep them engaged with their future.

How can I support them to stay positive about the future?

While you won’t have answers to all their questions about the future, you can help support them through their concerns. For instance:

  • Teach them about growth mindsets and how they can learn from failure.

  • Plan for exciting things in their future.

  • Help them to identify things that are within their control, such as keeping their room or desk tidy, completing a level on a game, or maintaining friendships and relationships.

  • Talk about what they value, and encourage them to practise gratitude for the things they currently have in their life.

  • Help them to develop their strengths and work out how they can put them into practice.

  • Encourage them to stay connected to friends and family.

When should they seek support?

Remind your teen that they don’t have to work out everything by themselves. Encourage them to ask for advice and suggestions from a teacher, their year coordinator or wellbeing teacher, the school careers counsellor, or someone who works at the uni/TAFE admissions office.

If they’re feeling really overwhelmed, it could help to speak with a mental health professional who can help support them through this tricky time.

Headspace’s work and study program supports 15–25 year-olds to plan a career, find employment, or work towards further education.

It may be difficult for your teen to stay calm and focused, and it can be tricky for them to accept that they can’t predict the future. It can help to remind them to focus on the things they can control and to trust that, whatever happens, they’ll be able to cope.