emember people asking you, What did you want to be as a kid, What did you say, doctor? astronaut? engineer? baker?

Many parents have expectations for their children to pursue a career in a specific field like medicine or engineering, and anything else may be seen as not good enough. Even if the child has different interests, many parents will push them towards pursuing these fields and disregard other job opportunities that can lead to success.

In addition to this, parents may also not be aware of the different types of jobs that exist. With technological advancements and development, there are now a variety of career paths available to pursue today. By limiting their child's options to those traditionally seen as 'successful', parents could be doing a disservice to their child by not allowing them to explore all possible avenues that they could take.

Parents might not be up to date on the current job market and the changing trends. They may have outdated ideas of what is a successful career path or what would lead to success in today's economy. This can lead them to give bad advice and push their child into a field that may not be viable anymore or have limited opportunities.

Kids should be aware of having their options open and not limiting themselves to what their parents may see as a successful career path. Researching different jobs, talking to professionals in various fields, and exploring internships can help them get an idea of what they’re interested in and the opportunities they have.

I remember the pressure of saying that I wanted to be a doctor when I was a child because it was what my parents expected and I could hardly figure out what I wanted to do.

I can't remember enjoying something I liked, was it reading, writing, dancing, or something else?

I am sure still kids do not have much clue of why they are learning children hardly get time to figure out the process since everything is already paid for and planned-the school, the curriculum, the after school activities

As the kid moves to a higher grade it only gets tougher as the pressure of getting into a particular stream or field increases.

"Perhaps it’s time to stop asking kids what they want to do when they grow up—or what kind of person they want to be, or what problem they want to solve—and instead ask what they want to do today. What they want to learn, what will make them happy, and what will help those around them now." 
—Meena Harris, author of A is for Ambitious

The burden of what you want to be a question

This question can be overwhelming and create a sense of discouragement. Parents need to reframe the conversation from a focus on careers to a focus on interests and passions. Encouraging children to explore hobbies, activities, and creativity is one way of doing this.

Instead of asking what career do you want? Ask questions like What activities make you happy? What hobbies do you enjoy doing? What kind of art can you create?

"A question that adults ask kids - I think it's the worst question in the world - is 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' As if growing up is finite. As if you become something and that is all there is," Michelle Obama

By refocusing the conversation, parents can equip their children with the tools they need to develop a deep understanding and appreciation for themselves. This can help them recognize their strengths and abilities as well as see potential career paths down the road. With this new perspective, children can discover new possibilities and start to explore interests that can shape their future.

Helping your child develop a sense of self-confidence and security is essential in guiding them down the right path. By taking away the pressure of finding a career, parents can provide their children with an open space to think and grow. This process helps them to focus on what they are passionate about and find a career path that aligns with it.

Work is what we do and not who we are.

The goal should be to create a sense of purpose in your child’s life. Work should be something they do, rather than who they are. Parents need to make sure their children understand this and help foster a positive attitude towards work and career paths.

Most adults don't care what kids enjoy doing in the present, they believe in preparing kids for the future. This belief leads to cramming kids with lots of information and activities in the present so that they can be successful when they grow up.

When [kids] see work as what they do, rather than who they are, they become more open to exploring different possibilities.
Adam Grant

Deciding the career for kids and then working backward 

This is a common situation, where the career goal is already decided and children are narrowed down to work towards it, almost like a checklist to be ticked off.

This gives very less opportunity for kids to explore and discover their interests and passions.

Instead of deciding the career for kids and then working backward, parents can consider a more flexible and adaptive approach.

This may involve encouraging children to explore a variety of subjects and activities and allowing them to develop their interests and passions.

Parents can also support their children by providing guidance and resources to help them explore potential career paths and develop the skills and knowledge needed to achieve their goals. This can include things like mentoring, internships, and job shadowing opportunities.

Careers rarely live up to your childhood dreams

Indeed, careers rarely live up to childhood dreams, as our aspirations and interests may change as we grow and gain new experiences and perspectives. While it is important to encourage children to explore their interests and passions, it is also important to acknowledge that their goals and dreams may shift over time.

This is why it is important to help children develop a growth mindset, where they learn to adapt to change and embrace new opportunities and challenges. By focusing on developing skills like creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, and adaptability, children can build a foundation for success in whatever career path they choose.

Moreover, it is important to encourage children to view their career as a journey, rather than a destination. As they gain new experiences and skills, their goals and aspirations may evolve, and it is important to support them in pursuing their passions and interests, even if they diverge from their childhood dreams.

Pushing the idea of having one true passion in life on kids 

It can put young people under immense pressure if they are not good at something or have trouble finding their ‘one true passion.’ This can lead to feelings of low self-esteem and discouragement, making it difficult for them to take risks and explore different possibilities.

The reality is that many people have multiple interests and passions, and these may change over time as they gain new experiences and perspectives.

Moreover, the idea of a single true passion can be limiting, as it can prevent children from exploring new interests and pursuing diverse experiences. It can also create a sense of failure or disappointment if they are unable to identify a single passion or if their interests change over time.

Parents can also help children develop a growth mindset, where they learn to embrace new opportunities and challenges, rather than feeling limited by a single, defining passion. By focusing on building skills like creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, and adaptability, children can develop a foundation for success in a variety of career paths and life experiences.

The future is unpredictable

It's good to avoid getting fixated on a single goal or version of ourselves because we can't predict how our desires and circumstances will evolve. Locking ourselves onto a particular path may ultimately lead us to an unsatisfying destination. Instead, it's important to remain flexible and open to new ideas and opportunities.

We can still set goals for ourselves and strive to achieve them, but we need to remember that the future is unpredictable, and our passions may change along with it.

Asking kids what they want to learn and what will make them happy

This can help them develop a love for learning and a sense of empowerment over their education. By involving children in the learning process and allowing them to explore topics that interest them, they are more likely to stay engaged and motivated in their studies.

When children are allowed to choose what they want to learn, they are more likely to feel a sense of ownership over their education and become more invested in the learning process. This can lead to a greater sense of curiosity, a desire to learn more, and a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

Furthermore, when children are allowed to explore their interests and passions, they are more likely to develop a positive attitude toward learning and a lifelong love of learning. This can benefit them in the long term by enabling them to develop new skills, pursue their passions, and adapt to new challenges throughout their lives.

In summary, asking children what they want to learn and what will make them happy can help them develop a love for learning and a sense of empowerment over their education. This can lead to greater engagement, motivation, and curiosity, as well as a lifelong love of learning that can benefit them in the future.

Choosing a career isn’t like finding a soul mate. It’s possible that your ideal job hasn’t even been invented, yet.-Adam Grant

May 10, 2023
Integrated Parenting

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