Lesson: Are we pushing our children to fulfill our lost dreams or teaching them to dream for themselves?
It’s very natural for parents to want better lives for their children. Actually we should! No parent wants their child to make the same mistakes they made or go through unnecessary pain and struggles, but there is balance that comes with that. Guiding our children to live a better quality of life is not the same as guiding them to fulfill our own unrealized dreams.
As an educator, I’ve had my share of watching parents push their children toward their unfulfilled dreams instead of letting their children dream for themselves and then helping them reach for their own dreams.
Here are 3 steps you can take to help support your child’s discovery of their own talents, passions and dreams:
- Expose them to a variety of activities and environments: Let your children explore different things and opportunities especially when they are young.
- For example: let them try art classes, music lessons, drama, varied sports, languages, cooking, engineering, poetry writing, science club, math club, computer science workshops, kite flying, etc.
- Expose them to different professions and job possibilities in your community. Perhaps let them shadow different family members or friends for half of a day while they work during summer break.
- If you come across an opportunity for your child to try something new, then let them. Don’t keep them in the box that you’ve designed for them to fit in. Don’t just pick what you think your child is good in or what you want them to be good in.
- When they do try something new, pay close attention to your child. Observe their attitude towards the activity. Are they passionate about it? Are they thriving? Is there potential to go further in developing this area? Your children might surprise you and cling to something you never thought they would be good at or like. Give them some time for discovery.
- Give them opportunities to develop in those areas: Once your child discovers their niche and articulates their desire to pursue it, then provide opportunities for them to grow and develop in those areas. As they get older, the scope will narrow but its important to allow them to determine their passions and develop their own dreams. A parent’s guidance through the process is a great gift!
- Teach them to be disciplined but balanced as they pursue their passions: We have to teach our children to be disciplined and dedicated because these are critical life skills needed to be successful in any area. Once we help our child determine what they are good at and what they want to pursue, then we have to teach them how to stick with it and give 100% effort, with balance of course. I am not suggesting that we push our children into putting all of their time and energy into that one talent or passion. We still need to raise our children to be well-rounded individuals as they develop their skills and talents. Teaching them how to live a balanced life is just as important!
Application: If you haven’t done so already, start with step one! Take a look at your local YMCA or Recreation activity book and find some different activities that you wouldn’t normal be drawn too and just let your child try something new here or there. If, you’ve already done step 1 then focus on steps 2 & 3 moving forward.