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Are You Allowing Your Teen to Change?

Aug 9, 2015

Starting a new school year is a new beginning.  It is a time of new possibilities, challenges, and accomplishments.  Are you pressuring your teen to stay the same? Are you open to your teen’s changing interests?

This past summer, I was eating dinner with my daughter and some friends when the conversation turned to the question “What do you want to do in college?”  I was shocked when my daughter stated that she didn’t like to talk about college when I was around. I proceeded to ask why and she said because I would think that was what she always wanted to be, and that I wasn’t open to her changing.

Through my company, Pathways 4 Teens, I am an advocate for letting teens create their own unique path to success. Given this, how could my daughter think that I was not open to her changing?

Throughout my daughter’s lifetime, she has been asked if she wanted to go to Stanford University, since both my husband and I went there. Last year she was handed another burden which everyone now questions. My middle child went to college and is studying engineering. Now both my husband and I along with both of my sons will have engineering degrees. Whenever someone asks if she wants to be an engineer, I say that I do not know and that perhaps she’ll be a writer because writing is something that she has always loved to do.  I was trying to lessen pressure from my daughter about her future choices. However, apparently my actions were unknowingly coming across as pressure not to change.

When I interview teens, they often talk about the pressure from parents or society to be a doctor, lawyer, or engineer, etc. Especially with the specialty programs offered in high school. Teens also talk about the pressure to stick with things, and that changing your mind can sometimes be viewed as giving up, or even worse as failure. I have often heard statements from parents like “he has wanted to be a doctor since he was little”.

The time in middle school and high school is a time of growth and exploration, I hope my daughter knows to take risks and try things outside her comfort zone in a positive way. Who knows what she’ll discover about herself?

After our dinner conversation, I was concerned that I was unknowingly sending my daughter the wrong message.  That changed last week when school started and she had to do a project for English class that gave me relief. She chose the above quote as her life philosophy.

I have included her English project as a companion blog piece. – See the related post “High School Sophomore Life Philosophy” .

Miriam Phillips-Gill is the founder of Pathways 4 Teens. Pathways 4 Teens provides educational services for tweens, teens, and parents. Our services give teens the tools and parents the information to help teens create a path for college success. Register for an event or sign up for our free newsletter at