“I want to be a mommy, a teacher, and a baker.” — My six-year-old daughter.
Routinely in our household, we receive declarations of what my daughters want to be when they grow up. This is actually really fun because we encourage them to chase after the things they really love.
More kids need this in their lives.
In a world that tells kids they can be anything they want, but then put them in a box when it comes to actually chase “anything” our kids need more dreaming. Sure, some things are damn near impossible to achieve.
Not everyone is going to become the President of the United States.
Or an astronaut.
Or even a business owner.
But why not share in your kids' dreams. Help them find hope in chasing something they want to do or are passionate about. If more parents did this, even if their kid wants to be a painter and make money selling their paintings, then help them do it!
But we don’t always do this.
Our Hopes and Dreams for Our Children
As parents, we typically by into this ‘American Dream’ idea for our kids. That one day, they will be better off than we ever were. Sometimes that means more money in the bank, or a big house, or the perfect career.
What if our hopes and dreams don’t align with those of our children.
Will we impress our hopes and dreams on our children anyway. Hoping more and more that they follow in the way we want them to instead of the crazy ideas they have? Or, will we embrace what they want and help them get it?
Ultimately, our hopes and dreams for them are for our comfort.
That’s right, I said it. Ultimately, our hopes and dreams for them are for our comfort. We want things to be better for them. While we are here on earth and long after we are gone. This isn’t bad though. It’s okay for us to want things for our kids.
But not at the expense of what they want.
Cancel Your Hopes and Dreams
When I was in college, I nearly changed my major to become a history teacher. To this day, I still wonder if I would have enjoyed it. After all, I love reading, books, and history. Yet, I never followed through.
My parents had convinced me to stick with my current major, Sport Management.
There were more opportunities in this major. There was a potential to make more money with this major. And I was good at the type of work I had already started doing. So, why change? At the time, I didn’t know what to do so I did what my parents thought was best.
Well, more than ten years after college, I’m not even working in my field of study anymore. In fact, I only worked in that career for two years after college. So, that worked out well.
Sometimes, the hopes and dreams we have for our children need to be canceled out for their hopes and dreams. When we can do this, it unlocks the potential for something even greater than we can imagine.
But how do we do it?
Unlocking Our Children’s Hopes and Dreams
When our kids tell us what they want to be when they grow up, how do we encourage them? This is our job, to send our kids out into the world to live happy, healthy lives. Not to tell them how the world works and they will need to fall into place.
This is the question: How do we encourage them?
We shouldn’t tell them how the world works. Or how impossible that might be. We should encourage them. Maybe they have lofty dreams. This is okay, how do we help put wind in their sails to achieve these hopes and dreams.
When we get these career and life declarations, I have been trying to do the following things to help encourage my daughters to find ways of making those things possible. Even though they are six and four currently.
1-Affirm their hope or dream.
The first thing I do is tell them, “if you want to do that, I will help you get there. If you change your mind later, that’s fine too.” This always encourages them to know that someone has their back. It also helps them see that I believe in them.
2-Ask them what they think they need to do in order to become their dream.
I always ask, “what does it take to become a baker/mommy/teacher?” Then we discuss what sort of work they would need to do and what sort of training it takes. Sometimes we Google the things it takes to become one of these plans for their lives.
3-Ask how they want to start working toward their dream.
The next thing I do, is asking “how do you want to start doing that today?” Sometimes, the best training we can give them starts right at home. For baking, we spend a lot of time baking things in our house. The practical application has really encouraged my six-year-old.
4-Check back with them on their dream.
Sometimes they want to do something because they saw it in a show or heard someone talking about it. Even if some of the lessons we teach them are fun, they may not actually want to stick with it. Which is okay. Especially when they are young. So, we check-in.
5-Encourage them in other ways while they keep dreaming.
My daughters have baking aprons. Yes, they get super messy along the way and so the aprons help us, but it is also a gift that has encouraged her love of baking. When we get to work in the kitchen, the apron goes on. And it keeps her dreaming of her dream.
6-We dream with our kids.
I have started baking more because of my daughter's dream of baking. I liked to do it before, but mostly followed recipes for box cake and things. Though recently, I made buttermilk biscuits from scratch. My daughter loved that I was interested in what she was interested in.
7-Give feedback along the way.
Sometimes, my daughter wants to take the wheel and “make her own recipe.” This typically turns out pretty rough, doesn’t taste great, and a lot of times is a mess. When she takes the wheel of her dreams and it doesn’t turn out, we give her a little feedback and encourage her to keep trying.
Lifting Their Hopes and Dreams
One of the best ways we can help our kids with their hopes and dreams is to lift them up. Give them a vision for what that will look like and help with the direction and action to make it happen.
Sure, my kids are super young. They may want to change their minds a lot between now and adulthood. I’m more than happy to help them explore their hopes and dreams. That is part of lifting up their hopes and dreams though.
We need to lift them up.
Otherwise, they will look to others. And those people might take advantage of our kids as they try to discover their dreams and make them come true. We set the foundation for our kids though. And when we do that, they will be on the right track to seeing their hopes and dreams come true.
“We need to support a change of mind.”
When our kids change their minds, even after a long run of chasing a dream, we need to support them. We need to support a change of mind. Sure, we want to help them test if they are changing their mind because of difficulty or if it is a lack of interest.
But we need to support them. If we don’t they may just do what we tell them and end up regretting it. Or worse, be embittered toward us for encouraging them to press on.
When we can lift them up even in the middle of changing their mind, it creates a strong relationship and connection with our kids. It will also help them navigate changing their minds with confidence. Which they will need in the always-changing economies of our lives.
How do you support your kids and their hopes and dreams for the future?