One of the more challenging aspects of parenting can be dealing with your child’s interests. As your child gets older, he or she will start to exhibit traits that are an indicator of what their interests are. I believe everyone is created for a purpose and our jobs as parents is to channel our children in the direction that will best help them develop into who they are to be, to find their destiny.
Every child has a different interest and way of expressing it. In my house, there is a budding music producer, a natural-born journalist, an athlete and an artist. Talk to your child or children; ask them what kind of things interest them. I have found that usually by the age of 10 or 11, most kids have a general idea of what they would like to do. The easiest way to discover this is to ask a question like this: “If you could do anything in the world that you wanted to do that was not mean, or against the law, and get paid to do it and it would be fun….what would you do?” By the middle school years, your child has an idea of what he or she really likes. Find out what this activity or interest is and find activities in your area that you can utilize to develop this interest.
There are a lot of things that can be purchased from thrift stores or be obtained for free. My 13 year old wants to be an animator. I was able to find an older version of Adobe Flash for him off of Craigslist – for free. No need to spend $600 for the newest version of the software when a little searching around can get cheaper results. I also found a weight bench at the thrift store for under $30.00 for my 18 year old when he was weight training for football. For my budding music producer, I found an old keyboard that someone was getting ready to throw away and asked for it. All it needed was batteries. Now, the kids themselves have learned how to be resourceful and search for items that can be easily downloaded or viewed on the Internet for no cost.
I know it can get pretty hectic, running around from dance classes to art, to little league and pee-wee football practice, music lessons, etc, so some strategic planning is necessary, if you have several children, especially if you are a single parent. Find other parents in the area whose children are attending the same activities and share the load.
Most importantly, you have to be interested and supportive. You cannot decide for your child what his or her gift or talent is. You cannot push them towards what you want their gift to be, nor downplay what they want to do. There is nothing more frustrating that casting your frustrated desires and accomplishments onto your child. I know there are a lot of men out there (and women too) who really like sports, but just because you have a son or daughter who may have a great athletic build, you cannot force athletics upon your kid. He or she may not want to do that. Don’t put your frustration on not accomplishing what you may have wanted to on the sports field onto your child. You may have the next business mogul or president of the United States. It’s not about what you want them to do so you can look good and brag; it’s about what they want to do…what they were created to do. In all reality, you should brag because they are your kids. If your son wants to be a dancer and you play for the NFL…. so what. Let him do it. He’s not you. He’s a product OF you but he’s NOT you.
I’ve spoken with a lot of parents who struggle with this. Just because you have an Olympic gold medal or a Super Bowl ring does not mean that your child should be doing the same thing. For instance, President George Bush’s daughter Laura loved to read books and she wanted to be a schoolteacher. She had no desire to be a lawyer. Her parents supported her.
Our children are not necessarily going to do what we do, because they are not us. But we can influence them in a positive manner and with our support, they will be successful in whatever they do. You need to do this because you never want your kids to feel that they are disappointing you by their career choices.
A child who grows to be an adult feeling unfulfilled because they sought your dreams instead of his or her own will be very frustrated as an adult. A child whose dreams are squashed and discouraged will find adult life to be more challenging than it should be. I wanted to be a fashion designer. I was invited and visited by the representatives of a prestigious design college, but was laughed at and discouraged. I was told “That kind of stuff is for sissies.”
Let your child show and teach you what their interest is, support them 100%. Communicate with your children and devise a game plan early on to insure your kids’ success.