The dangers of over-planning your teenager's future

The nature of my profession has given me the opportunity to meet with countless parents and students. As a parent I'm also surrounded by fellow parents who have great hopes and dreams for their children. Some of these parents have their teenager's pathway for the next 5-10 years clearly laid out - timelines, activities, summer jobs, college, even career.

I can be just as guilty as the next parent when it comes to vision, goals, and action steps - it's just how I'm wired. But I recently watched a short video that completely changed my perspective.

Sir Ken Robinson is a highly regarded educational activist and global education leader. His TED talks have millions of views, but it was a short clip from a talk he gave at the Nordic Business Forum in 2014 that caught my attention. 

Sir Ken Robinson talks about the value of finding passion and how the pursuit of one's passion can truly make a difference in their life. In this particular clip he references Bart Conner's mom and his future life's work with his wife Nadia Comaneci (

5 Key Takeaways:

  1. As parents, we should focus our efforts on helping our teenagers pursue their passions first.
  2. There is no possible way to know the "right" path for your teenager - we need to stop trying to plan it out.
  3. As you help your teenager make decisions about their future, leave room for plans B, C, D...etc.
  4. We can't all be Bart Conner - but we can all have a significant impact on our world.  We need to help our teenagers see beyond themselves to the world around them.
  5. We can help our teenagers find purpose in their lives when their Passion, Mission, Profession, and Vocation align.  (The same is true for us.)


Take some time to talk with your teenager, perhaps you could even show them the quick video and get their thoughts. You may be surprised by the conversation that takes place.

If you have more questions or are looking for a little more guidance on helping your teen navigate high school and college decisions - we're always here to help!

Written by Edsel Clark, Ed.D (CEO/Co-Founder at myOWNedu)