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Respectful parenting is the concept of raising children with the belief that each child is a whole person. The average person will make at least four career changes before age 30. The question is (for those of us with kids) — when do we talk to them about career changes, and, what do we tell them?

In 2019, I decided to make career changes of my own. Like many of our own clients, I have been consulting with our CEO, Jaime Chapman, about my own career. In the spring of 2020, I will be taking the Florida real estate licensing exam, utilizing the marketing and writing skills that I have developed over 10 years. I chose Jaime because we already work together and professionally, she is known for her award-winning career coaching.

Through the example Jaime set for me, I have been able to negotiate and secure higher paying writing gigs, which meant that I could reduce my working hours and allocate more time for my studies. I have also secured a position at a local brokerage, which provides extra security for my career transition. (All real agent agents must work under the direction of a licensed broker.) After I decided to go for it, there was only one question:

How do we talk to the kids about these career changes?

Kids are noticers and are great at being mirrors to your emotions.

Kelly Meier, Parent Effectiveness Training Instructor

During most of this transition, not much directly changed for our kids financially. I was making roughly the same amount of money, but working on different campaigns and projects while studying more often. With my workload structured differently, it was less stressful with my working hours, but my personal calendar was also pure chaos.

I started making all the lists:

  • A list of all of our expected changes throughout the entire transition, both good and bad — and when exactly to expect them.
  • A shortlist of how each kid can help support the home, with 1-2 realistic items per child.
  • A reasonable list of expectations for our kids during this time — we expect good behavior, their rooms to be clean, etc.

Kelly Meier, a West Coast Parent Effectiveness Training Instructor writes, “When there are big changes happening in life, like a career change, a move, or anything that might temporarily disrupt family life, it is important to talk to kids about it in an age-appropriate way. This prevents children from thinking that any of the stress or worry you might be feeling or giving off is their fault. Children will notice changes in your behavior and react accordingly. Kids are noticers and are great at being mirrors to your emotions.”

With everything in hand, we sat down with each of our kids to talk to them in an age-appropriate way. As people that depend on us for stability, they deserve to know what to expect through the licensing process. We also expected feelings to happen along the way — we’re all human. Adults aren’t always great at expressing emotion, but it’s important that we be open and honest with our kids. (And when they become adults, we will have set a great example too!)

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