In the spirit of speeding up the learning curve, there’s a new study that discerns what career building skills people most often say were instilled in them by their parents. The research, conducted among over 1,000 working adults by DIRECTV, says that 83 percent feel their parents influenced their career, primarily by helping them develop career-crucial skills earlier in life.
What follows are the top six career skills people feel they learned from their parents. The first step is simple awareness of what tends to “stick” from your parenting efforts. Then it’s about going beyond just doing your fair share to amplifying these key skills in your own child (with the advice provided).
1. Hard Work
In the study, 72 percent of participants said they learned this critical career skill from their parents (taken as an average of mom and dad’s individual influence). Hard work is one of the biggest things I learned from my parents (my brothers, sisters, and I call it in the “Mautz way”). But, as with many career-critical skills, it’s not like my mom and dad ever sat me down to give me the hard work talk, they just worked hard. It was more of a visual “that’s how things are done around here” message.
Parenting expert Susan Merrill from imom (a subsidiary of Family First, a non-profit dedicated to intentional parenting) says you also teach your kids the value of hard work when you let them suffer the consequences of failing to work hard. Don’t like that bad grade? You’ve got to work harder next time. Didn’t do your chores? No allowance.
I’ve also found it’s important to say “fun after the work’s done.” You want to watch Youtube videos? After your homework is done.
The study also found that roughly two-thirds of participants say they learned how to be responsible from their parents. Experts from the Center for Parenting Education say that to teach children to be responsible it’s important to agree to an objective for something you want them to do, then allow them to get it done in their own way. In business, this is known as MBO (Managing By Objective).
They also point out that reinforcing a child’s self-esteem makes them more responsible. This is best done by showing them they are valued/appreciated unconditionally and by ensuring they feel a sense of control and competency in their lives.
The percentages drop off a bit here, with 57 percent of working adults saying they learned commitment from their parents. My wife and I are far from perfect parents, but one thing I can tell you we get right is that we don’t let our daughter quit from something she has committed to. We don’t tell her she has to sign up for that event/sport/experience again, but she can’t quit half way through.
We’re also sure to verbalize when we’re keeping our own commitments, especially when we don’t feel like it. I make sure my daughter hears the occasional “Ugh, I don’t want to go on this business trip but I have to” declaration from me.
A little more than half of participants (52 percent) were taught discipline thanks to mom and dad. My dad taught discipline by sternly disciplining us (in sometimes unhealthy ways). I’m not advocating for that. Instead, parenting experts at allprodad.com (also a subsidiary of Family First) say to instill discipline it’s important to help kids set up structured routines and encourage them to take “commitments to completion”, as mentioned in the previous point.
They also stress the importance of children learning the fundamentals behind anything they set out to do. Almost by definition, the methodical work it takes to be good at the fundamentals of anything takes self-discipline.
Additionally, a little less than half of participants (47 percent) learned how to be worthy of trust from their parents. This one isn’t easy as psychology research from McGill University shows that children’s ability to tell lies emerges around the age of three and develops rapidly from there.
Parenting expert Deborah Farmer Kris says to teach trustworthiness, it’s vital to reframe honesty as an act of courage. Kids often lie because of fear and anxiety (often a fear of letting a parent down), which makes them feel bad about themselves. But being courageous allows them to see themselves in a good light. And kids want to think of themselves as good, not bad. Kris also says it’s important to acknowledge and honor when your child is being truthful.
Forty-three percent of participants learned to be crafty and resourceful from their parents. My wife and I have learned a lot here. Resourcefulness is encouraged when we don’t give our child everything she asks for and when we put problem solving on a pedestal (especially this second one). I’ve lost count of the times when facing some hysterics, the words, “OK, you know the problem, now figure it out!” come out.
Even if you have days when you swear your child has learned not one thing from your efforts, know that he/she indeed has. It might not show up until later. But it will definitely show up as they blossom in their career. So keep plugging away while I put in a plug for this article as assistance.