to ask is it normal for a 13 year old to know what they want to do when they grow up?

(95 Posts)
var123 Mon 28-Dec-15 08:13:11

DS1 is in year 9 and has to make his GCSE choices soon. He's been asked several times recently (by teachers, family, friends etc) what he wants to do when he grows up. He has absolutely no idea.

I thought it was normal not to know, and all he has to do with his GCSE choices is keep his options open. However, I am beginning to wonder if I am mistaken and most 13 /14 year olds do have a future career in mind that they are working towards?

Personally, I didn't find out what I wanted to do until I'd left university and had been working for about three years and it was a job that no one in my childhood world would have even heard of.

Jessica78 Mon 28-Dec-15 08:17:03

It's absolutely fine that he doesn't know what he wants to do yet - I hate the pressure they get put under to choose! Just guide him to choose what he enjoys the most and that will guide him in a general career direction via post 16 education x

Caprinihahahaha Mon 28-Dec-15 08:17:26

Nope.
I think 'what do you want to do when you grow up' is just social chit chat.
I know some children who have said def what they wanted to do at age 13 and have done it but these were vocations/dreams - one is a doctor, one a professional rugby player.
It's just one of those things adults ask kids just as a way to gauge their interests.

Sighing Mon 28-Dec-15 08:19:40

I think a lot of 13 year olds could give an answer but based on what they think their strengths / interests fit with (and generally well known careers). Few might say social worker (unless perhaps positive experience there); lots might say teacher as education is what they know. GCSE it's best to keep as much variety as possible whilst considering strengths.

Sighing Mon 28-Dec-15 08:20:47

(Also i don't think 80% would even get a career in the same area)

FinnDaHuman Mon 28-Dec-15 08:21:14

I'm 30 and still figuring it out.

Baressentials Mon 28-Dec-15 08:21:56

I think some do and some don't. My ds (16) has a vague idea, I had no clue at his age I still don't
My best friend at primary school knew she wanted to be a teacher from when I first met her (at 6 years old) She did it. It was all she ever wanted to do.

Enjolrass Mon 28-Dec-15 08:24:30

I have friends that always knew what they wanted to be. Ever since we were around 9. They are now those jobs.

I had no clue. I now run my own business in a industry I would never have thought I would be in.

I just kind of fell into it. Came up with an idea, tried it out and it worked!

I have never had a clear 'I want to do this'. I did have a good career in my twenties but I applied for the job because the shifts were good and worked my way up. At no point did I say 'I want to be a complaints manager for a large company call centre' , but that's what I ended up doing.

Some people know and do it, some people know and end up not doing it, some don't have a clue.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Mon 28-Dec-15 08:26:27

Dd had an idea but has changed her mind since choosing her options. So doing a wide range is good choice anyway.

tobysmum77 Mon 28-Dec-15 08:27:46

I think the answer is yes and no. It is important imo for him to start to be b thinking about what he enjoys, what he is good at and potential job opportunities in these areas.

The reality is that he won't have a job for life anyway probably, most people don't. I don't know what I'll do next and am 38 but I have a few ideas which to me is important. smile

kungpopanda Mon 28-Dec-15 08:28:54

Apart from unlikely-to-be-achievable fantasies, I would be quite worried about a 13 year old that was dead set on a particular life path. They don't even know enough at that age to know what they don't know.
Keep their subjects as broad-based as you can, while playing to their strengths, within the educational framework you are dealing.
And if a 13 year old is seriously dead set against a subject, there is no point in the fight. You won't win. They will lose.

cooperG Mon 28-Dec-15 08:32:59

I'm 31 and I still don't know...

SheGotAllDaMoves Mon 28-Dec-15 08:34:13

It is perfectly normal not to know this imperative to keep all doors open!

var123 Mon 28-Dec-15 08:37:19

Keeping options open is a lot harder than it looks when the school only allows 9 GCSEs and chooses 5 of them for you!

We haven't seen the options yet, but if DS gets the same options that they got last year, then he'll have to choose between geography and history which are both strong interests.

Baressentials Mon 28-Dec-15 08:37:48

I agree to keeping subject as broad-based as possible. That is what I have advised my ds - keep as many options open for as long as possible.

BigSandyBalls2015 Mon 28-Dec-15 08:38:14

I had a conversation about this with MIL on xmas day. She started eye rolling, dramatic sighing and pointing at DD(14) as she hasn't got any idea of what she'd like to do as a career. Whereas golden grand-daughter (also 14) has wanted to be a primary school teacher for at least a couple of years. Both completely normal I think, if anything perhaps the one with the clear goal is less usual.

VulcanWoman Mon 28-Dec-15 08:40:15

My son picked the subjects he's interested in, same with the A Levels too.

madmotherof2 Mon 28-Dec-15 08:40:45

I think it's normal to not know! My 12 year old would like to be a doctor but most of his friends have no idea!

MrsMook Mon 28-Dec-15 08:42:26

I had an idea and chose GCSEs, A levels and as far as applying a degree on that idea. Mid application, I had a wobble about whether that particular vocation was suited for my personality and switched to a straight subject I enjoyed, then trained for a different profession after.

When you're young it's useful to have a goal, but it doesn't really matter whether you go on to follow that one or change direction. For some people, it's a useful motivator for the last stages of school where they don't enjoy school for the sake of school.

Lot's of young people don't know, it's normal.

SSargassoSea Mon 28-Dec-15 08:44:48

It seems normal ime for teenage girls to want to do something which 'helps' people - so nursing, medicine, teaching, SW, vet.

As a mature woman would your ideal role be a helping/support one.

Or a whizz in the City type of job. Or admin/management or deep sea diver.

People are also approving of 'help' type roles ime. If you were a young female and said you wanted to be a helicopter pilot you'd be more likely to get musings about how you could do that while bringing up a family.

I'm probably going back in time, not sure if this is still the case. I put my DDs off a 'help' type role as I felt the pay was not enough to run a home on your own.

dratsea Mon 28-Dec-15 08:45:59

I now know what I wanted to do, but bit late as I am drawing my pension.

TheHouseOnTheLane Mon 28-Dec-15 08:47:55

My DN wants to be a "spy". hmm Her parents are supportive. She's 16 so it's not as though this is a fantasy!

It's normal to not know at 13 or older. Tell him to do the choices he most enjoys.

SweepTheHalls Mon 28-Dec-15 08:49:01

It also helps staff to engage with the students. If you know that they have a clear plan, you can use that to help engage the student in your subject and motivate them.Most Year 9's have no idea though!

wonkylegs Mon 28-Dec-15 08:49:34

I think most people don't know and a few do know but the question is a gateway to thinking about options and doesn't require hard and fast answers.
We were talking about this the other day at a friends house and DH (hospital Dr), friend (law) and I (architect) all knew from an early age what we wanted to do but for very specific reasons, everybody else in the room had taken years to figure it out.

WhyCantIuseTheNameIWant Mon 28-Dec-15 08:49:40

My ds has had his career mapped out since he was about 5!

He wants to fly raf fast jets...

But no, I don't think most people map their whole future out as a kid.

I didn't have much of an idea. Careers advice at school was pretty rubbish!

Ditch anything he hates or struggles with, leave him with subjects he enjoys and is good at.

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