In America, it seems, parents can’t wait to sign their 4 year olds up for soccer, or their 5 year olds up for cheerleading. Or, depending on the talents and desires of the parent, they may be taking tennis or golf. Maybe they join the swim team.
Don’t get me wrong, none of these things are wrong in and of themselves. Let’s just be careful that we are not burying our child’s passions and possible innate talent by gearing them towards what YOU want them to do.
When I was growing up, my parents were not involved in my life very much. I did well in school, and just entertained myself the rest of the time. (I eventually got into some trouble, lol!) When I had my kids, especially #2-4, I had gained a whole different perspective on what my job as a parent was.
Other than raising them to be responsible adults, I learned it was my job to lead them and guide them to find their gifts, their passion. This *passion* may or may not be tied to what their future vocation would be, but it would be most definitely something they loved and were good at.
Many times as my kids were getting older and growing into adulthood, people would ask me what I did to have my kids turn out the way they did. I never really thought about the overall picture, but just did what felt right for each one, at the moment.
The Theater Jill of all Trades
My 2nd daughter loved words and good literature. I provided her with as many classics as I could, and we had fun learning latin root words. I took her to several plays when she was younger. She eventually attended a fine arts school one day a week (we homeschooled), where she was involved in numerous classic plays, on and behind stage.
When she was 15, I discovered a community theater near us. She acted in a few plays, but then realized she really loved the behind the scenes action. She got to assist in directing a children’s play, and eagerly learned all about stage lighting and design. She eventually was paid to work part-time for the community theater, and went on to community college and studied theater. While she did not end up with a degree, she has worked in multiple cities in various theaters and even had the chance to go to Mexico City to *fly* Aladdin’s magic carpet for a performance. She currently is the assistant stage manager for The Shakespeare Tavern in Atlanta, GA. She absolutely loves her job and I am so happy that she does!
He can build anything
My 3rd child, my only boy, has always loved to put things together and take them apart. I afforded him as many opportunities as I could to do so. When our VCR broke, I let him take it apart to see how it worked. When I bought things that needed assembling, he was eager to do so. Checked out tons of books from the library on how things work and watched MANY shows on Discovery channel. We provided LOTS of Legos, Knex and Rokenbok toys over the years.
He has innate ability to understand *how* things work. He has attended a technical school for automotive technology, but has ended up going back to his first job that he got when he was 14 for an events and amusement company. When he started, he manned inflatables and the cotton candy machine. Now, eight years later, he is a supervisor and can put together and take apart their ferris wheel, roller coaster, and merry-go-round, and any other piece of equipment they have. He travels all over the southeast, managing the amusements at private events. Funny now, to think back, his favorite computer game was Roller Coaster Tycoon!
The dancing, horseback riding photographer
My youngest daughter, had MANY different things she was passionate about. Two of the biggest during her young teen years was dance and horses. She was also involved in the same community theater as her sister. She took ballet for several years and was a wonderful dancer. We were blessed to be able to provide her with her own horse at the age of 11. Owning a horse taught her SO much about responsibility and putting the needs of others above her own when necessary.
She was also exposed to photography over the years (we had a mobile photography studio) and eventually joined the yearbook staff at her high school. Of course she needed her own camera! Since graduating, she has done some professional work and continues to build her knowledge, her skill, and her portfolio. While it may or may not be her main vocation, (she is attending college to be an ultrasound radiologist) the passion she has for creating and capturing memories with a camera will always be a part of her.
There were many things we gave a try, to see what their interest/skill level was. If it truly wasn’t for them, we moved on. Among some of the other things we tried: scuba diving, softball, volleyball, skateboarding, architectural drawing, singing, vaulting (acrobatics on horseback), wrestling, guitar (my son still plays!), and piano, to name a few, lol!
I know that some of these things can be expensive. Use your library. Use the internet. Keep your eyes open in your community for opportunities that may arise.
The main thing is just keeping your eyes and mind open to what your children love. See what they are good at and give them opportunities to grow and expand. You never know who you may be raising!
PS. If YOU haven’t figured out what YOUR passion is yet, here is a great post to guide you!