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Janeway

Flustered over child's long term goals

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At what age would you think a child would have an actual serious long term goal? My 14 yr old, who is almost 15, and has Aspergers (recently changed to ASD) has been determined for a while now that he will do karate for a living when he is an adult. He hasn't said he will teach it or own a studio. I will come back with mentioning teaching and mentioning owning a studio. But he sort of glosses over at that. It seems as if maybe teaching or owning a studio. But he wants to always live near a good dojo.

 

 

OK..am I doing something wrong here? I do a lot of smiling and nodding and figuring he has a few years to decide. But should I be worried now? 

 

edited to add: when I mention he could major in business or even something like exercise science in college, he is not interested. College does not seem to be in his plans for the future.

Edited by Janeway

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My kids didn't not have serious long term goals until much older than that. One didn't nail a goal down until 20.

 

The other is still dithering. 

Fwiw, in my family, unless someone has a concrete plan, they follow my plan and my plan is go to to college.  I figure they might as well get a degree while they figure life out & the actual process really does seem to help them. They explore new classes, think of possible majors etc. 

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It is early.  My 19 year old just nailed down a major (in her second year of college! ) Her long term goals at 14 were basically avoiding adulthood for as long as possible.  

 

I had some pretty awesome goals at 15.  Not a single one came to fruition.  :lol:

 

 

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Our DS will be 14 next month. Depending on the week, he either wants to be a classic jazz drummer, an architect, an ornithologist, or an Elvis impersonator. So, no, I'm not worried. Yet.

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I think the teen years may be the worst time to work out long-term goals. The teen brain is all messed up and still growing.

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I'm hoping that 15 is considered very early days. My youngest turns 16 next month, and her long-term goals are for her sister to make a lot of money so she can live with her forever  :ohmy:

 

She's going to clean the house, and is also willing to help with the kids once they are out of diapers  :lol:

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You are still in early days.  Do some kids have a solid plan in their teens?  Yes.  But a whole lot of them don't.  

 

I certainly didn't.  I did go on to college right after High School and eventually figured out where I wanted to go career wise but honestly I think some of my time at University was wasted, much as I enjoyed the school.  I think I would have been a lot better off, taken a lot more classes that would have helped me long-term, been more productive of my time, if I had had a year or two of being out in the world working or apprenticing or whatever before spending so much time and money and effort at Uni.  I went in not having a clue what I wanted to do, I then settled on a major that seemed really interesting but with very little actual understanding of what that major meant for the real work force and so I wasted quite a bit of time fulfilling those requirements before realizing it wasn't for me.  Then I had to back track and spend an extra semester trying to catch up in the major I finally realized I loved.  

 

Especially in today's day and age, with the cost of secondary education sooooo over the top expensive and tons of kids ending up with thousands and thousands of dollars in debt from student loans before they ever even get hired somewhere, I think it makes more sense if a child is not set on their future to then let them explore a bit before they commit to anything. And I wouldn't worry too much that a teen doesn't really know what they want to do in life yet.  It really is pretty normal as far as I can see.  Hang in there.  :)

 

 

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At 14, most kids have not even plan their four years of high school. The world is ever changing. Might as well plan to be flexible. If his interest is in karate, can he do an internship at the dojo he goes to? For example, a friend who wanted to be a ballerina helped at her teacher's studio and realized being a ballet instructor is not her cup of tea.

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My DS has been serious about wanting to go in a similar direction for 1-2 years. I know him, and I know he will likely not change his mind. With another kid, I might think it's a phase, but I know my son. I see the effort he puts into his training, and see him display all the qualities one hopes for in a serious student - time management, goal oriented, perseverance etc in his athletic endeavours.

I am not thrilled, but it is his life and not mine. We have discussed our concerns  about injuries and finances and the need for a plan B in case of career ending injury or it just not working out. DS will get a college degree - at this point, I don't care in which major - just as a backup plan.

For having meaningful conversations about it, it was vital that we take his plans seriously and do not attempt to talk him out of it.

Edited by regentrude
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You really expect a teen ager to have long term goals, when they don't even have a fully functioning brain yet? Seriously!? It's been proven that a persons frontal cortex doesn't fully form until around the age of 25, so looking towards the future and making any serious plans and the path to get there is beyond the scope of understanding for most teens, and that goes even more for a teen on the ASD, which I'm familiar with since I have a son with ADHD.

 

I think in our society today we push our kids out of the nest way too soon, we expect them to stack their education with honors/AP courses, and we put them in extra-curricular activities that will look good as we add them to their transcript. But, in all of this we fail to provide them with life skills and the time to just be themselves and seek out new experiences so they can determine what their passion is.

 

I'm also not in favor of sending kids to college so they can figure out what they want to do. It's been determined that the average college student changes their major between 3 & 5 times before they graduate and because of this many students end up going for 5 years instead of 4. All of my older kids have either taken a gap year or 2 or gone into the military before they even remotely knew what they wanted to do. College is not for every kid.

 

I have a 14 and a 16 year old now, my last 2 kiddos still to finish high school. They both say they want to enter the military like their older brothers did but they sometimes will talk about going on a missions trip when they graduate and then enlisting or going straight to college, but they really don't know. My 16 year old has ADHD and he's begun this year to have an increased interest in psychology and theology. This is the kid who told me 3 months ago he want to join the Army and be an MP.

 

I'm not saying you don't have the right to feel the way you do because I've felt that way when all of my kids were at home and my oldest still didn't have any future plans as a junior in high school. What I learned is that we need to step back and let them be kids for as long as they can without the pressures to know what they want to be when they are 30. There is a lot of maturing and brain growth that goes on during the high school years and you will one day look back and wonder where that karate loving kid went. Don't stress momma, time has a way of changing us all.

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I had three different majors in college and a whole range of jobs in college and the 15 years before children, and I really didn't know what I loved until I was about 50. Most of my paid work now is in a field I didn't study at all in college. It doesn't pay super well, but it's my joy and passion and pays some of the family bills.

 

So I didn't demand that all of mine at that age. My oldest was uncertain enough at the end of high school, that we did an about face away from the "public Ivy" to the community college so he could explore. We had a rough idea, but pretty vague. And he figured out a major. Maybe he'll end up like me in a different area at 50, but at least he has a major he likes.

 

My next one is 80% sure, but who knows. That's OK for the beginning of 12th.

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My neurotypical 14yo is still up in the air.  She has some serious interests, and she intends to go to college, but there's no real "plan".  I think it's normal and fine.  I'm 39 and I don't have much of a plan. (Which I don't consider quite as normal or fine, lol.)

 

Now, I also have an almost 18yo child with ASD.  He has serious interests.  He even has what some might consider a plan.  Getting him to mold his ideas into something realistic and to follow through on them has been frustrating, difficult, not terribly successful, and has brought a lot of (private) tears of worry.

 

If I could go back to 4 years ago, I would focus less on what his future employment would be, and more on setting and attaining goals completely unrelated to any particular future career.  Even things as basic as planning meals, the ingredients to buy, the time they will take to cook, etc.  Things that can easily be broken down from "I want this" to "This is what I'll need to do."  

 

I think the lack of EF skills tends to go one of two ways for many ASD kids - complete anxiety, or near disassociation.  For mine, it used to be anxiety.  Now it seems to be more disassociation. (Which is probably a coping mechanism for the anxiety.)  

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I'm a fairly serious type A person(who did very well in school) and went through 3 different majors in college. I had do idea beyond some vague guesses based on nothing concrete- like I'll do business b/c I'd like to be rich- HA. I can't remember any serious aspirations from that age. Now that I'm trying to figure out what to do in my second act I'm in a similar boat, I don't think I'm alone in that based on all the mid-life crisis threads. Figuring out what you want to do in life is surprisingly hard.

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At 14 I was doing poorly in school and just floundering in general. At 15 I started working harder and decided since I was good in English class I would major in "English". At 20 when I was approaching graduation from college with a literature degree I had no idea what to do with it. My future MIL said "Why don't you get a Master's in Library Science?" So I did and became a librarian! And loved it. There are all different paths!

 

My daughter at 15 was determined to be a journalist. We picked all the schools to visit based on their journalism program. Now at 16 1/2 she wants to go into public policy and is disillusioned with journalism. It's keeping things interesting!

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Goodness. None of mine had any sense of long-term goals until... 16? 17? 18?

 

I say you have time yet. I have a 16yo right now who has no clue what he wants to do with his life... other than skateboard. (LOL)

Edited by Kinsa

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I had a young teen with a goal that didn't require college.  I schooled him as though he were going to go to college.  Maybe even required more because I knew it could be the last schooling he would get.  We did convince him to go to college to have a back up and because even in his field (audio engineering) a college degree can open some doors(like working in the audio/lighting tech department at a university).  School was hard for him and he only stayed in for 2 years.  During that time he worked in audio at the college and in the field in the summers.  He now has a full time job in that field and loves it.  I would have liked for him to finish, but the bottom line is that they have to make those decisions when they are adults (and I use the term loosely LoL!).  My job is to educate in such a way as to keep as many doors open as possible and to provide experiences to broaden horizons when I can.  (These aren't my only educational goals, BTW!)

 

I learned a lot about how to keep my mouth shut, but at the same time I did share my concerns periodically.   

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edited to add: when I mention he could major in business or even something like exercise science in college, he is not interested. College does not seem to be in his plans for the future.

 

I think it's perfectly reasonable not to know what you want to do when you're that age. Many people go to college not knowing what to major in. Were it me, I would stop talking to him about it for a while. It's obviously stressing you out, and it probably is him, too.

 

My oldest has changed the idea of what she wants to do many times, and she's going into her senior year of college. She's now completely re-evaluating what to do after she graduates. That's ok, too.

 

My son is not particularly interested in college but feels like he "should" go. I agree that he should, but I have also told him not going is fine as long as he has a plan to support himself (not by flipping burgers at McDonald's) and also that going to community college and getting an AA would be fine. He's 13 and has no idea what he wants to do beyond "work in hockey."

 

My 14 year old is absolutely certain that she wants to get a degree in computer science or computer technology. Before that she was absolutely certain she wanted to be a zoologist. Before that she was absolutely certain she wanted to be an orthodontist. Before that she was absolutely certain she wanted to be a paleontologist. Being absolutely certain is no guarantee of anything!

Edited by Haiku
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My kids are all in their 20's now and only one of them has a real long-term plan!

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I had one kid who had a plan at that age and one that didn't. My ASD kiddo will be a sophomore in college this year and still only has the barest of plans. My youngest has modified her plan some, but has a firm idea of where she is going and how she will get there. 

 

Be patient. Freshman in high school rarely have a real plan and an ASD kiddo even less so. It isn't a failure on his part. More realism will come. A first job, earning money, picking up expenses, it gradually sinks in. There is a good chance he get there someday. Encourage him. Guide him gently. And wait. 

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My oldest announced at the age of 9 that she was going to be a violin teacher. She is, halfway through a doctorate in early music. Next one wanted to do SO many things, but it came together for her at the age of 16, standing under the Eiffel Tower on July 4th, when she ran into Sgt. Malarkey and Buck Compton (from Band of Brothers). Next one knew that the Army was her place, but after many surgeries, is now out, and serving as our county's rodeo queen! So, plans can change. Ds would love to find a job where someone would pay him to read all day, but did the next best thing--get an engineering degree so he can afford books. He's always liked intrigue, so cyber security is a good fit. He'll Commission in 2 more years. Last one wants to fly like her sis, but is off at a cyber security camp in VT--I think she's found her spot!

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Oh goodness! My dd has had quite a few long-term plans since that age (ie, they keep changing!) and my ds who is 19 and about to enter his second year of college still hasn't decided!

 

It would be so nice for us moms if we could know the future, but as in everything else, we just don't get to know yet. You're doing the right things (nodding, smiling, making an occasional suggestion for him to consider--or not!). Hang in there! It's a bumpy ride!

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I changed my mind several times between 14 - actress - to 18 - psychologist - to 20 - poet (lol). It's normal. 

 

I do have one child who had a long term career goal from age 15 - that's more unusual than usual. 

 

Dd17 is still changing her mind with 18 months of schooling to go. Normal, normal, normal. 

 

Don't stress.

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I personally think you could be describing different issues, some perfectly typical, others maybe not. I guess my interpretation would depend on exactly what he is thinking. What does he think he will do with the karate as a career if it isn't teaching or owning a studio? I think his actual thoughts on the matter may reveal the difference.

 

My Aspie has a lot of very unrealistic ideas. For example, he wants to be an artist, but he rarely follows through on a project, refuses to finish enough pieces to set up a booth at an art show. We have purchased him supplies, offered to pay for the booth, but there is no evidence of his pursuing this dream other than the odd piece completed every 6 months or so. He is 24, works a full-time job, knows he has to pay his bills, and yet he still talks about wanting to quit to be an artist. It is not realistic bc he has no self-discipline. But it is also very typical behavior for him.

 

The most accurate statement ever made to us by a therapist was that it did not matter how educated he was if he couldn't hold a job. That sums up where he currently lives. He is working a minimum wage, labor intensive job bc that is all he can mentally cope with. It is low pressure, repetitive, and requires no unexpected tasks. No pressure and no big picture tasks sum up what he is willing to deal,with on a day by day basis.

 

So it may be very typical 14 yr old world view stuff, or it may not be. No one on this board is around him to determine the nuanced differences. If you think it might be concerning, then maybe it is. But, maybe it is just unrealistic adult expectations. There are so many shades of gray. Is he working with a therapist? Could you ask his therapist what they think?

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I wouldn't be concerned about a 14 year old not knowing what they want to do yet, and I think it's even less likely with someone with Asperger's/ASD.  I'd let him have some time to explore his interests in more depth and be ready for big changes each year.

 

My DS has been serious about wanting to go in a similar direction for 1-2 years. I know him, and I know he will likely not change his mind. With another kid, I might think it's a phase, but I know my son. I see the effort he puts into his training, and see him display all the qualities one hopes for in a serious student - time management, goal oriented, perseverance etc in his athletic endeavours.

I am not thrilled, but it is his life and not mine. We have discussed our concerns  about injuries and finances and the need for a plan B in case of career ending injury or it just not working out. DS will get a college degree - at this point, I don't care in which major - just as a backup plan.

For having meaningful conversations about it, it was vital that we take his plans seriously and do not attempt to talk him out of it.

 

Regentrude, a DS of mine was set on a professional sports career at 14-15, had been since age 7, and put in incredible hours and effort.  As you, I always talked about the Plan B "in case of injury," and that did happen, unfortunately.  Plan B worked out fine for him.  As usual, you are very wise IMO to take his plan seriously and keep the dialog open.  Best wishes.

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A very small number of 14yos have realistic long-term goals, let alone the drive and determination to follow a path towards them.

 

My oldest (16), is beginning to have goals -- however, we're still working on the realistic, drive and determination part (he has a goal he is in love with the idea -- but spends zero time on anything remotely related to that "goal."  He has another goal (which is realistic), but again...drive and determination.

 

My dd (14) has both the long-term goals and the drive and determination.  She sometimes steps back (takes a break), but then dives back in (quite literally).  Yesterday was the first team practice for swimming since February.  She's been working on her own (with me).  She left the big boys (6'2") in her wake as she lapped them (she's 5'1).  They were quite stunned.  They will probably be even more stunned when she swims the 1500 in November at Champs and beats them Ledecky-style.  Thankfully, all of her goals are not swimming-related.  She has academic and college goals as well -- and has a very aggressive 4-year high school plan she is working.  

 

Younger ds (13 today) is still mostly consumed with how quickly he can achieve the next level in Destiny (video game).  Although, he does talk about USNA/college, which is still a far cry from oldest DS (16).  Most of DS's friends at 14 were still thinking they were going to be professional football/baseball/basketball players.

 

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a DS of mine was set on a professional sports career at 14-15, had been since age 7, and put in incredible hours and effort.  As you, I always talked about the Plan B "in case of injury," and that did happen, unfortunately.  Plan B worked out fine for him. 

 

We do his with our son, who is 13 and wishes to be a pro hockey player and "work in hockey." That would be great. Prepare for it, but keep in mind it doesn't happen for a lot of people. What will you do if it doesn't work out for you? He never really had any ideas.

 

But after I posted here just yesterday, ds came to me and said he'd like to be an engineer. We looked at the engineering offerings at local colleges and universities, and he says that environmental engineering or energy management sounds like something he would enjoy. Who knows whether that interest will stick, but at least he is starting to think beyond just the typical boy dream of pro sports star.

 

We are currently watching How to Be a Superstar Student from TGC, and one of the exercises we did was set goals in six life areas. Since we just did this yesterday, it may have prompted some thinking on ds's part.

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You really expect a teen ager to have long term goals, when they don't even have a fully functioning brain yet? Seriously!? It's been proven that a persons frontal cortex doesn't fully form until around the age of 25, so looking towards the future and making any serious plans and the path to get there is beyond the scope of understanding for most teens, and that goes even more for a teen on the ASD, which I'm familiar with since I have a son with ADHD.

 

I think in our society today we push our kids out of the nest way too soon, we expect them to stack their education with honors/AP courses, and we put them in extra-curricular activities that will look good as we add them to their transcript. But, in all of this we fail to provide them with life skills and the time to just be themselves and seek out new experiences so they can determine what their passion is.

 

I'm also not in favor of sending kids to college so they can figure out what they want to do. It's been determined that the average college student changes their major between 3 & 5 times before they graduate and because of this many students end up going for 5 years instead of 4. All of my older kids have either taken a gap year or 2 or gone into the military before they even remotely knew what they wanted to do. College is not for every kid.

 

I have a 14 and a 16 year old now, my last 2 kiddos still to finish high school. They both say they want to enter the military like their older brothers did but they sometimes will talk about going on a missions trip when they graduate and then enlisting or going straight to college, but they really don't know. My 16 year old has ADHD and he's begun this year to have an increased interest in psychology and theology. This is the kid who told me 3 months ago he want to join the Army and be an MP.

 

I'm not saying you don't have the right to feel the way you do because I've felt that way when all of my kids were at home and my oldest still didn't have any future plans as a junior in high school. What I learned is that we need to step back and let them be kids for as long as they can without the pressures to know what they want to be when they are 30. There is a lot of maturing and brain growth that goes on during the high school years and you will one day look back and wonder where that karate loving kid went. Don't stress momma, time has a way of changing us all.

 

I wish there was a "love" button on this forum so I could love this post a million times! You have no idea how much this spoke to me today!

 

Edited by parias1126

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I'm on the HS board today feeling a little panicky about my children.  Reading this has helped me calm down a bit.  Thank you.

You really expect a teen ager to have long term goals, when they don't even have a fully functioning brain yet? Seriously!? It's been proven that a persons frontal cortex doesn't fully form until around the age of 25, so looking towards the future and making any serious plans and the path to get there is beyond the scope of understanding for most teens, and that goes even more for a teen on the ASD, which I'm familiar with since I have a son with ADHD.

I think in our society today we push our kids out of the nest way too soon, we expect them to stack their education with honors/AP courses, and we put them in extra-curricular activities that will look good as we add them to their transcript. But, in all of this we fail to provide them with life skills and the time to just be themselves and seek out new experiences so they can determine what their passion is.

I'm also not in favor of sending kids to college so they can figure out what they want to do. It's been determined that the average college student changes their major between 3 & 5 times before they graduate and because of this many students end up going for 5 years instead of 4. All of my older kids have either taken a gap year or 2 or gone into the military before they even remotely knew what they wanted to do. College is not for every kid.

I have a 14 and a 16 year old now, my last 2 kiddos still to finish high school. They both say they want to enter the military like their older brothers did but they sometimes will talk about going on a missions trip when they graduate and then enlisting or going straight to college, but they really don't know. My 16 year old has ADHD and he's begun this year to have an increased interest in psychology and theology. This is the kid who told me 3 months ago he want to join the Army and be an MP.

I'm not saying you don't have the right to feel the way you do because I've felt that way when all of my kids were at home and my oldest still didn't have any future plans as a junior in high school. What I learned is that we need to step back and let them be kids for as long as they can without the pressures to know what they want to be when they are 30. There is a lot of maturing and brain growth that goes on during the high school years and you will one day look back and wonder where that karate loving kid went. Don't stress momma, time has a way of changing us all.

 

 

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