There is a lot of talk about all the things that parents are supposed to help their children learn in life. It is the parent’s job to teach responsibility, to mold them into valuable citizens of the Earth and prepare them for the tough road of life ahead of them, which lies curving behind the pine trees that will often blind their site. Manners, etiquette, respect, integrity, dignity, perseverance, persistence, good will, compassion, and selflessness are just a few of the life traits parents try to drive home with a punctuated enthusiasm. But where is the passion in all of that? In the attempt to do what is always right, expected and noble in the eyes of psychologists and child experts something important is being lost and forgotten. Helping children follow their dreams is indeed the most important job of being a parent!
The dreams of one never seem to fit the dreams of all. As a society we are all critical of the dreams of others holding them to a personal standard of worthiness. Unfortunately, most adults do the same thing to children. Why waste time reading books, riding horses or learning how to play the violin when you could be a baseball star? Why work to volunteer your time and think about joining a mission after high school when you can go to an Ivy League college? Why spend your Saturday digging in the dirt when you could be evolving and perfecting your tennis game? It seems that whatever age a child is they have a vision of their life and their parents often have another.
It can’t go without saying that many parents choose to live through their own child and wish to turn them into what they wished they would have become had their own dreams not been squashed by external expectation. Why is allowing a child the opportunities to follow a dream of their own scare so many parents into a frenzy?
Helping children follow their dreams really takes two qualities. The first is openness. Remaining open to possibility in life and believing that your child can in fact be successful whether they play sports, video games, instruments or dream up inspiring stories about knights and fairies. You wouldn’t call the Harry Potter series a waste of time now would you? The author of that series admits openly that the ideas were a gift of child hood and that is exactly where it all began for her. Openness means listening to what your child says and the way they look when they are doing things. If you watch most children at soccer practice you can quickly see the difference in the ones that are there because it is their dream and those that are there because of some fantasy their folks are hanging on to. Sometimes even the best player on team is only the best because he or she is being pushed so hard to perform. Eventually, this pushing and skill makes the child question their own dream. They begin to wonder if they really don’t know themselves as well as they think they do and they become followers of a life that doesn’t belong to them entirely. Dad says ‘see, I was right I knew you would be good!’ Their own dream, however large or small it may be gets pushed back to the subconscious part of the mind where they may dwell on it as adults.
The second quality parents need in order to help children follow their dreams is to remain faithful. Not the kind of faith that brings to your knees to pray in the hopes that they will do okay; but the kind of faith that puts winds in the childhood sails of imagination and creativity. These are the same sails that make Santa Claus real and when enough breath is put behind them; children can, do and will accomplish anything. But first’someone preferably a parent must believe in them! That same parent may have to set aside remorse, regret of their own or even pent up anger that they won’t be able to see their own dream realized through the sweat and blood of their offspring may be difficult, but necessary.
There are few people in this world blessed enough to know what it feels like to live out a dream of their own. Many of the rest of us have endured a life of being led, directed and orchestrated into occupations, past times and sometimes lives that don’t really belong to us internally. One easy way to remember how important it is that you spend your time helping children follow their dreams is to remember what you used to dream about. While spending countless hours daydreaming about learning how to be the first human to ever fly may seem pointless, futile or impossible to a parent; to a child they already see themselves with the wings. They are just looking for the permission to fly!