Should We Teach Kids to Follow Their Dreams?
- Mollie Joy Rushmeyer Writer, The Prodigal Journey
- Updated Nov 20, 2017
Do kids need encouragement or a dose of reality for their dreams?
In short, I’m inclined to believe it’s a little of both.
I would like to share a little more of my background to illustrate my point:
When I was in junior high school, I remember taking a class where we studied and learned about different occupations. While it may not have been extensive, I believe we received a reasonable overview of many types of jobs and areas of study. The teacher wanted us to choose our top three occupations of interest, and then report on our findings.
I’ll never forget my top two, Psychology and Journalism/Writer. The third didn’t matter. I only picked it because I had to, and I’ve long since forgotten what it was. The thought of being a journalist and an author sent a thrill of excitement and adventure through my awkward-phase, 15-year-old heart. Psychology interested me too. With some of the struggles I had in my early years and my thirst for someone to ‘get me’, I thought maybe I could help others in their struggles.
While I saw merit in both psychology and writing, it was clear that my teacher thought otherwise. I remember her disdain when she said, writing was difficult to get into and almost impossible to pursue as an actual career, suggesting I look into psychology or something else. Was she wrong that writing is hard to break into? No. But the fact remains that on this extremely impressionable, self-conscious, totally mid-angst teenager, she shut out the possibility of a dream coming true or even the use in pursuing it.
I was met with much of the same when I finally left high school behind for college. I brought up my interest in writing and art, but was steered in the direction of psychology once again. This is not to say my choices should be blamed on someone else.
But from there, writing seemed a silly, frivolous dream for those more talented, better connected, etc. than me.
I am, however, a believer in things happening for a reason. I became a counselor for almost seven years, and I’m glad to say I helped many people during that time. I know it’s where God wanted me in that season of my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I also know that I was just as blessed by the people I helped as I hope they were by me.
After I had my first child, however, my original passion for words burned within me afresh. Plus I had a brand new dream: staying home with my children. So, finally, I was brave enough to pursue my dream.
My point, and what I’ve learned, is that adults have a tremendous impact on what kids feel they can accomplish and children need to know adults believe in them. So do grown-ups pursuing a dream, for that matter! The support of my family, my husband, and writing friends are crucial in my confidence even now as I work toward this dream of becoming a published author.
On the other side, every whim and pie-in-the-sky idea has to be carefully examined. Not every dream should be pursued. Such as my short-lived fascination with detective work as a kid which was best put on the shelf. Let’s just say me and blood and guns don’t mix.
Here’s how I plan to handle the dreams of my children:
1. As with everything there needs to be balance. A balance between encouraging their talents, allowing them room to make mistakes, and to find their own way.
I can help my children explore their fascinations, encourage what they excel in, while I balance that with truth. This is tricky. The truth of the matter might be that one of my daughter’s wants to be a famous singer, but ends up tone deaf. Not a good combo. So what could I do? Personally, I think allowing my child the opportunity to learn the truth on her own might be the best route.
I know, I know. You might be thinking. What about those awful auditions for American Idol? Shouldn’t their families have told them? Maybe. Or maybe they could’ve encouraged what they were truly gifted in from the beginning. I’m not sure. What I do know is that my hope and prayer is that my girls will prayerfully consider the path God has for them. I know He has a plan to use the talents He has placed in them for His purpose and their good.
2. I will encourage their dreams at the same time that I help them understand the realities of life.
Mike Rowe, the Dirty Jobs star, said this of pursuing passions: “If we’re talking about your hobby, by all means, let your passion lead you. But when it comes to making a living it’s easy to forget the dirty truth: Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it. And just because you’ve earned a degree in your chosen field, it doesn’t mean you’re going to find your ‘dream job.’”
Ouch, I know. But I think he’s got a point. I just hope I will convey this to my children a little softer, with some love, and maybe a cookie. Sometimes you will need to have a job that puts food on the table while you pursue your dream on the side. Hard work and responsibility to family are highly important traits in our family that I hope to pass on to them.
What do you think? What will you tell your children or loved ones about pursuing a dream?
Mollie Rushmeyer: A born and bred Midwesterner, Mollie Rushmeyer makes her home in central Minnesota with her husband and two spunky, beautiful daughters. As an inspirational contemporary romance and women's fiction writer, she loves to bring stories of hope to messy, prodigal gals just like her. She's an active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and is the Vice President of her local chapter. In her "spare" time she lives out her Lois Lane fantasies as a local print journalist, writes encouraging online content, is an outdoors enthusiast, and enjoys full-time employment as a monkey-catcher... ahem, mommy. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram as well, or check our her website, www.molliejoyrushmeyer.com.
Photo courtesy: ©Unsplash