Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dream On or Not

What did you want to be when you were little?

I always wanted to be a writer; never a teacher, a nurse or lawyer. Nothing interested me except for writing. Unfortunately I never received very much encouragement from family, teachers or friends. No one ever said, “Go for it” or “This is what you need to do to become a writer.” This was probably due to a number of reasons. A) They didn’t know to the extent I wanted to be a writer. B) They didn’t know what I needed to do to become a writer. C) They didn’t care.

It was probably a combination.

A few months ago I put up a post about telling my dad I wanted to be a writer, to which he quickly responded; What else do you want to be?

Now as a parent, I’m wondering how to handle my kid’s ambitions.

Both of my boys want to play in the NBA and my daughter wants to be an artist. I have no problem encouraging their dreams while their young, but my oldest is heading into high school where grades and what you take starts to matter.

I find myself torn between trying to help them follow their dreams and pushing them to do so or being realistic.

So do I encourage their dreams or ask them what else they want to do?

When it comes to it, I think that I might have started following my writing dream sooner if I had someone pushing me to believe in myself. Thanks heavens for my husband who has been nothing but supportive in everything I've tried.


JKB said...

Oh MAN this is a conundrum.

I preface this by saying I don't have kids (yet) but this is a really outstanding post, and I don't have any idea.

I would say, support them in their dreams, but what do I know? Can you balance the realistic? Like, if he wants to play in the NBA, has he been to camps, are coaches saying he's gifted to him, does he believe in himself enough to do it? Kind of like, support his dream but with the realism behind it to back it up. Does that make sense?

Anonymous said...

I don't know how you handle this.

I remember being laughed at when my 5th grade teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said "a major league baseball player." I guess he had a point, but still...

I guess all you can do is help him with the dream while still emphasizing school. I mean to get to the NBA he needs to play college ball. To play college ball he needs good grades...

Dara said...

I also am unsure how to approach it. I suppose I'd support them but like the other two said, still emphasize school too. Perhaps his love of basketball will take him on the sports management/coaching track.

Tell him you are there to support him but make sure he also knows it will take A LOT of hard work to get there, not just based off of sheer talent.

I'm not a mother though so I don't know if what I'm saying would be helpful or not...

Heidi Willis said...

Well, you got me here! I was all on your side against your dad and his squashing dreams comment until I got to the son wanting to play in the NBA, and then I waffled.

Really, though, they are a lot alike. Both are very selective, drawing from a vast pool of similarly dreamy folks. They both require a bit of luck, a ton of dedication and hard work, and determination. And they both come with heartbreak.

So I think you let your kids know that they can choose to aspire to anything they want, but that to choose something as unlikely as the NBA, or making a living as an artist, they are going to have to work their butts off. And that it's about more than having fun. There is a lot of learning that goes with it. And discipline.

And then you push a little, and see if they really want it bad enough.

And emphasize that school is almost always the first step to any success. Like the others said, good high school grades will get you to college, and you have to really play in college to get noticed by the recruiters.

Patti said...

I agree with all of you.

I told my husband what I wrote about and he said let t he kids dream as long as you can, because as you get older your dreams get shattered. Isn't he the pessimist.

What I've been saying is try hard but have a back up and hope they at least play collage ball which is our goal for them. Of course that 's collage in Canada no the NCAA.

Jessie Oliveros said...

I wanted to be an actress. Then I wanted to be a writer. Then I became a nurse. And now I want to be a writer again. (Nix the actress idea forever.) Anyway, I kind of wish I had pursued writing more as a young person. I knew that all of my teachers, my parents, and my aunts and uncles wanted me to cure cancer (I actually had a teacher tell me this) so I didn't share my writer dream with many and stuck to what was practical. I didn't cure cancer but I put my husband through law school, and now because he works I can write. So it all works out in the end.

When I was very young I wanted to be a gymnast, and my mom (or dad? I can't really remember now) came into my room and explained to me I was too tall to be a gymnast. And I remember that, and it was kind of mean. I would have figured it out in the end. Support your kids dreams. Encourage good grades. He'll figure it out. He needs to figure it out for himself.