What did you want to be when you grew up? For me, when I was young I wanted to be an astronaut. I loved reading about space and immersing myself in everything space. It devastated me when I was in elementary school and was watching the Challenger Launch and it exploded, but that did not quell my dream. I would draw spaceships, watch television shows, read books and more.
Somewhere in my middle school and definitely high school years this dream faded as the reality of some of the hard sciences and math sank in and I realized that making this happen might not be a reality. I got more involved in leadership and found that I had a true interest in leading others. This led me to think about the possibility of considering something after high school that would allow me to hone my leadership skills and lead toward a career in business or politics or something like that.
I ended up making future choices based on this dream, but even in college this dream changed into something that was similar but different. I had gotten very involved in college and found that I could work in a career in student affairs/college administration and in the end this was where I went.
Why do I share all of this, because it was a process of decisions, movements in one directions, and then 180 degree turns along the process. As a father I try and share this journey with my kids to let them know that what they want to do now is not necessarily where they will end up. At the same time I am working to try and support, hone and encourage my daughters to explore interest areas to gain a better understanding of what people do in these careers and to be able to make an informed decision in the end about what lies ahead in their future.
How do I do this and how can you do this? The following five things have helped me to guide my interactions with my girls as I try and support them:
- Find things for your kids to read about the future career.
- Introduce your kids to people in varying professions throughout their lives to help them to see the breadth and depth of options available to them.
- Support the dreams of your kids and allow them to flourish. Never bad mouth or talk negatively about a potential career.
- Subscribe to a magazine, newsletter or some other publication to stay in-the-know about what is happening in that career area and share that with your child.
- Explore the pathways into the career with your kids.
No matter what your kids want to be when they grow up, foster and encourage the idea. Let it grow but also share insightful questions with your kids at the right times too. You play an important role and what you say or do not say can make or break the dreams of your kids.