Parents: Don’t Ask Your Kids What They Want To Be, Instead Support What They Are Becoming
Updated: Jan 2, 2021
Have you ever thought about the impact of your words on your children as it pertains to their career choices? Often, without noticing it, we force the values we've learned from our culture onto our children without even listening to what they have to say.
Culture is extremely important; it shapes the way we live, gives us a foundation for our identity and largely influences our thoughts and child rearing practices. But on the other hand, just like anything else, sticking to our culture and following everything to a “T”, not allowing them to be innovative, could be detrimental to our children’s growth and development, especially when it comes to their career choices. In my experience certain cultures value specific types of careers that they see as “reputable.” For example, in Asian cultures children are encouraged to be doctors or engineers; in african cultures education and accounting are seen as very important; and in European cultures, a business or law degree is the way to go. Now, it is important to realize that these are just the stereotypical jobs for people who are a part of these cultures, but at the same time, there is some truth to it because in my experience many people I knew and still know, who were a part of these cultures and had kids wanted them to pursue these “reputable professions.”
As parents, all we truly want is for our children to be successful, right? So, then why am I posing these questions and giving you so much food for thought? It’s because we may very well be sabotaging our children into favor of what our culture has taught us, rather than what our kids actually think and need. While this might be a hard pill to swallow, give me a few seconds to enlighten you.. Majority of the time, our children already know what goals and dreams they want to pursue, but find it difficult to tell their parents what it is because they might not see it as socially acceptable. In fact, an article written by the New York Times suggests that we should stop asking our kids what they want to be when they grow up altogether.
And in that same vein, realize that without posing this question, or making suggestions of our own, it is easier for our children to discover their true passions and desires by themselves.
The up and coming generations of today are amazing and we rarely give them any credit. They are so attuned to their different talents and interests that you can easily find a child who is more than willing to chase after their dreams and turn their talents into a business venture. For example, young entrepreneur, Mikaila Ulmer, founded her company, BeeSweet Lemonade, at 4 years old all because of a bee sting.
After getting stung by a bee, she became interested in them and found out that honey bees were actually going extinct. After learning that, she decided to combine her grandmother's flaxseed lemonade recipe with honey for the endangered honey bees and created a multi million dollar brand as a result. Now at 15 years old, she is worth over $11 million dollars all because of a bee sting! Another example is Tiffany Aliche, raised by African parents, to focus on finances and graduating with a notable degree. However, she loved teaching and her passion for helping others is what’s allowing her and her companies The Budgetnista and Live Rich Academy to make millions. This just goes to show that parents should always encourage their children
instead of forcing their own beliefs onto them because you don't know what could come out of it.
It is important for us as parents to continuously encourage and support our children in order for them to know that their dreams are worth pursuing. To be completely honest, most parents want their children to be a part of a certain profession because they want to live out their own dreams through their children. Not allowing them to flourish in what their true purposes are is detrimental to them in so many ways. The worst outcome could be that after 20, 30, or even 40 years in a given career your child finally decides to change their path from the one that was forced onto them and decides to start over in the career that they truly desired. I believe that we would have more happy professionals if they were doing what they loved from the start. Just last week I spoke with an older sibling during a coaching session about her allowing her 29 year old child to find his own path without any influence from her or any other family member in his life. The challenge is that if we see them falling or having a difficult time finding their way, we immediately swoop in to help. After admitting that she was being somewhat of a “helicopter” mom, I laughed, not at her, but at the thought of so many of our youth being lost and filled with self doubt because we fail to fully support what they desire to do.
I think it is so important for us to support our children, nieces, nephews and those around us no matter what they decide to do. There may be times when they venture on crazy, out-of-this-world ideas that might not make sense to you, but know that one small idea can become something amazing with their parents’, guardian and guidance and approval.
Grant, A. (2019, April 02). Stop Asking Kids What They Want to Be When They Grow Up. Retrieved December 12, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/01/smarter-living/stop-asking-kids-what-they-want-to-be-when-they-grow-up.html
Gilchrist, K. (2019, July 17). 14-year-old 'Shark Tank' success shares her best piece of advice for entrepreneurs. Retrieved December 12, 2020, from https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/17/shark-tank-success-mikaila-ulmer-shares-best-advice-for-entrepreneurs.html