Wasn’t that an encouraging title for a blog post? Wouldn’t it be awesome if there were a way for us as parents to quickly help our kids figure out what unique talent they have? Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could help them know at age 8 or 18 what their calling was so they could go ahead and start working toward a passion they will perfectly pursue for the rest of their lives?
That would be fantastic, but of course, it’s not possible.
I’ll turn 40 soon, and I still don’t know exactly what I want to do with my life. I’m still a work in progress, and ten years ago wouldn’t have predicted what I’d be doing today.
Sometimes we put this pressure on ourselves as parents. It starts from a genuine place, the desire to help our kids navigate the world. If we’re not careful though, it can mutate into an impossible quest to answer questions only time and God can answer.
When my youngest daughter expressed an interest in art, I instantly decided, “She found her thing! She’s an artist! From here on out, that’s what she’s all about!”
I started buying her art supplies for every birthday, Christmas, and minor holiday that requires a gift. We had an artist on our hands, and now that her path was set, at 4 years old mind you, we could help steer her in the right direction. An after-school art class soon followed, and we even made her a little studio in our house. (It’s a small closet under the stairs, much like Harry Potter’s bedroom.)
The artist’s life was progressing nicely right up until the moment she asked to quit her art class. She wanted to try gymnastics instead. Wait, what? You’re an artist, a visual artist! You use paints and paper and markers and glitter, so much glitter.
For a minute, I forgot she was a kid. I forgot she was still exploring. I forgot my job as a parent was to help her try a lot of different things. Maybe she’ll love art for the rest of her life. Maybe she’ll become a chemist. Or a hairdresser. It’s hard to say right now, because she’s only 9.
Help your kids figure out their passions. When you do though, stoke their curiosity, don’t suffocate it. Don’t wound it with unreasonable expectations. Don’t assume you’re going to land on an interest they’ll chase for the next 80 years of their life.
One day they might like art. The next day they might like cartwheels.
Give them runway to explore both, encourage them to stick with it when they want to quit for the wrong reasons, and encourage them to try something new when it’s time.
And if you have some suggestions on what I should do with my life, if you have a quick way for me to figure out exactly what to do for the next 40 years, hit me up on Twitter. I’m very curious.