Every child has a dream or two about what they want to do as a job when they’re all grown up, and if you think back to your own childhood, your own dream job probably hasn’t materialized. Only a very few of us can become film stars, professional sports players and singers – at least, to the point where it can be a profitable job – and some of us have already grown out of our dreams of being a mountaineer or a vet by the time we’re in high school.
Our dream jobs may be unrealistic, and the same may be true for your child, but in reality, whether or not the dream comes true isn’t the point. A dream job is, essentially, a job that is tied to our interests. And while you may be concerned for the moment when your little one learns how hard it is to become what they’ve dreamed of becoming, that’s not a reason to discourage them. In fact, it’s a much better idea to give them your full backing.
Interests drive deeper learning
You might hope that your child will achieve straight As, and maybe they will, but it’s a very rare teen who finds Chemistry and French equally interesting. There is something about an affinity for a subject that acts as a lens – it makes things clearer and learning fun. This allows deeper learning and higher achievement – maybe your kid will be mastering the subjunctive tense while their peers are struggling with past participles. Or they’ll be solving chemical formulae that the rest of the class find impenetrable. Either way, a love of a subject is one of the main drivers of ambition to work in that field – so encouraging them to think big can unlock a reservoir of educational potential.
Limiting their focus will dim their enthusiasm
If your child wants to become an astronaut and you’d rather they showed interest in becoming a lawyer, it can condition you to aim them towards a certain curricular path. The problem with doing this is that this guidance won’t suddenly make them love history and civics. It will make them see these subjects as obstacles to be surmounted – and pressure is never good for performance in a child. Nor is it any good for emotional development.
If your child wants to go into space, look at learning opportunities from the likes of Space Foundation CI&E; because even if the astronaut dream is a long-shot, there are opportunities involved in space that are entirely attainable. As a further benefit, their learning in those subjects you would prefer won’t be encumbered by fear.
You never know, it might work out for them
Perhaps most importantly of all when it comes to encouraging your child’s seemingly unrealistic dreams and interests is the fact that, well, you never know. Every success in every field with a small, select pantheon happens against the odds. There have been 5’3 adults who have played in the NBA. Countless actors have spent weeks or months sleeping in their car until they got their breakthrough audition. Reaching the top is tough, but it does happen – and if your child does make it, that’s amazing. If they don’t, at least you backed them and were there for them when they needed you.