Every kid has a dream of what he wants to be when he grows up, just like you did when you were a kid. Maybe you had parents who encouraged you in that dream or maybe you had parents who weren’t so thrilled by your dream and wanted you to do something practical instead.
Whatever your experience was like as a child, you have a choice right now to help your kids dream. Help your kids dream big and dream right. It sounds like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.
By doing these three things, you can help raise a child who pursues his dreams and succeeds at them.
1. Get to know your child very well.
Spend time with your child in order to understand her better. Watch for her strengths and weaknesses. Listen to what she talks about. Listen to what she wants to be when she grows up. Get to know her as she tries out different dreams and interests.
Encourage her to have as many dreams as she wants. Don’t pigeonhole your child by putting her in gymnastics for six hours a week at age four. What if she wakes up at age 17 and realizes she doesn’t actually like gymnastics; she’s only doing it because that’s the only thing she’s ever done? Allow her to try many different things and get to know her as she explores.
2. Encourage your kids to pursue goodness.
Kids want to grow up knowing they have a purpose. They want to do something that matters. Encourage your kids to not only dream but to seek God’s will in that dream. Encourage them in a path that will help people, or to channel their dreams in a way that is for the greater good.
Don’t let them become too self-absorbed in their own dreams. Work on their character. Encourage them to pursue what’s good and right, and their dreams will follow.
3. Encourage them to pursue dreams that use their natural gifts.
This is where you as a parent have the most wisdom and guidance to offer. As you’re spending time with your child and intentionally getting to know him, you will see his natural gifts rise to the surface. Kids can’t always recognize these. For example, if you have an eleven-year-old who wants to be a professional athlete but has no athletic talent, steer him in a direction that is reasonable. Point out what he’s really good at and find ways for him to use that gift.
Also, and this is important, don’t push your kids to pursue your dreams or become good at what you’ve always wanted to be good at. Having a child isn’t your opportunity to live vicariously through them and achieve your own goals. You might see that your kid, who you’ve always wanted to be a doctor, actually excels at the arts. Let her pursue the arts. Or vice versa, if she’s leaning toward science and hates her piano lessons, let her lean into that gift. Having a child isn’t your opportunity to live vicariously through them and achieve your own goals.