Firefighter. Doctor. Teacher. President. Many moms are delighted when their kids fantasize out loud about what they want to be when they grow up. But should we take these assertions seriously when they come out of the mouths of babes?
Tracey R. wants to be helpful to her child. Her own parents gave her very little direction beyond "'you can be whatever you want to be,'" which she found confounding. But her own daughter "only wants to be a dancer," and as Tracey explains, she'd prefer that her little girl do something that offers more security, such as practicing law in the performing arts. Similarly, while Kelly's husband would prefer that their 6-year-old son become an engineer like him rather than an architect, their little boy has been insisting “for the past two years" that he wants to be an architect.
These moms want to know not only when to start encouraging a particular career aspiration, but if it's ever okay to discourage one.
Whose Ambitions Are These?
Many Circle of Moms members, including Meg, feel strongly that “kids should be kids” and moms should not be talking about career paths until high school or older. “My son is five and he just started kindergarten this year. It's really hitting me hard that everyone and everything is trying to make me push him to grow up too fast. Kids today are expected to start working on ‘what they're going to do with their life’ straight out of the freaking womb. UGGHHH!!! I want him to have as many options as possible when it comes to careers and what he wants to do with his life because I want him to be happy and not just be stuck in something.”
Carla agrees. “I understand wanting your children to have a good job, but is that the only thing you have expectations for?” she wonders. “What about their morals, family values, ability to relax, remember what it's like to be a kid?. . . parents nowadays . . . are so stressed out getting their kids to every sport activity, music lessons, karate, and there is NO home time, no down time. This is hard on parents as well as kids.”
Letting Your Child's Bliss Be Your Guide
Meg and Carla question whether ambitious parents really understand that there's more to life than a job or career. But many moms feel that these two values are compatible; that developing a child's interest in a particular path is a wonderful way to help them find future happiness.
For Chrissy, they key is in helping your child discover what they love. As she shares, your children will reveal their special interests and talents if you watch closely: "My oldest is four and is always figuring out how things work so maybe I’ll encourage him to be an engineer or mechanic. . .My youngest, 2. . . .loves to make people laugh and has a. . . [high] emotional IQ. He's very sensitive about how people are feeling and likes to see people happy. He will give people hugs and kisses then say ‘Aww, it makes you happy.” I’ll encourage him to maybe be a counselor or social worker."
Denikka is also determined to give her kids opportunities to figure out what makes them happy, and for her this includes exploring sports and the arts. Her own parents never allowed her to do this. “My dream for my kids is for them to end up better than I did. Not that I hate my life or anything, but I was prevented from exploring a lot of opportunities in my childhood, and I hope I can give those things to my children. Things like art, whether it be music, painting, writing, sculpting, whatever. . . I had all the creativity beat (figuratively) out of me. Sports are another thing that I never got the chance to explore. It wasn't until my mid teens that I was allowed to join any sport that I wanted to (archery)." The bottom line: she wants her kids "to be happy."
Sheree agrees. She intends to follow her child's lead and encourage her along the way. “I don’t have any plans for my child. I just want her to be able to make the decision herself as to what she wants to be. I will support whatever she wants to be. If she wants to be a doctor, a school teacher, or a window cleaner, I will support her decision. I don’t think it's right [when] parents have a mindset that ‘my child should do this.’ Your child should be happy and content in the position and direction they chose."
Do your children know what they want to be when they grow up?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.