Four Foundations,  Parenting

Accountants and Astronauts

Children dream about becoming movie stars, musicians, professional athletes, prima ballerinas and presidents.  I don’t know about you but the last time I looked at a group of grown-ups, I saw a lot more accountants than astronauts…. more mechanics than movie stars.  What becomes of childhood dreams?

I’ve heard a lot of highly successful people say that one of the first steps they had to take to fulfill their dreams was to stop talking to their family and friends about them.  It seems that in our efforts to protect those we love the most we often stomp on the rocket fuel of their imaginations.  Our intentions are usually good:  we want them to be safe and secure, we don’t want them to get “beat up” by life or repeat our mistakes.

So what happens?  They stop dreaming, stop trying, or stop telling us.

[Tweet “They stop dreaming, stop trying, or stop telling us.”]

Can you blame them?  Think about a time that you were excited about an idea, you told a friend and they immediately starting poking holes in it.  Even if your friend was trying to help, the conversation did not make you feel good or increase your confidence, did it?

So how do we make sure that our kids will be prepared to earn a living without stepping on their big dreams?  How about dreaming with them?  You can:

1)    Ask questions that encourage imagination.  “What do you think it’s like to live in the White House?”

2)    Ask questions that reinforce ideas.  “How many hours do you think the President works every day?” or “What kind of student do you think he was when he was in the ___th grade?”

3)    Ask questions that help them make plans.  “What do you think you might need to do to get ready to be the President?  How do you think we can practice now?”

4)    Ask questions that help them broaden their thinking.  “It seems like the part of being President that you like the best is the ______.  Did you know that companies also have presidents?”

 Talking about dreams and how to achieve them goes far beyond the dreaded “What do you want to be when you grow up” question.  Instead, it’s another way to enhance communication between you and your child and to strengthen the connection between you.  And that might just be a dream come true.

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  • Kath

    I love this! Just think what an engaging dinner conversation this would be during a family meal. And how dreams would blossom as a result!

  • Teri Goetz

    Such an important post. The definitive “what do you want to be” questions does not keep the dreaming alive, and questions like that make kids feel pigeonholed. It amazes me when kids as young as 10 or 12 are already picking courses for their college major. Seriously. I told my kids to go to college to figure OUT what they want in life. To explore, try new things. See what piques their interest and gets a strong gut sense of direction. I’m so glad you posted this great piece. thanks!

  • Karen

    I love this I talk dream talk with a lot of people I
    My life. I share this with my yoga students and clients. I am a success and mindful coach so I am really living my dream life and extremely grateful!

    • Andrea Patten

      Yes… when people are brave enough to share their dreams with us I think we owe them an extra-special level of awareness. Thanks for checking in with me!

  • Veronica

    Guilty. We do kill each others dream. No wonder the world is in such a mess. There is so little trust: we are dream killers. We really do need to encourage and help each other to reach for the sky. We also need to do all we can to ensure that the next generation gets it right.

    • Andrea Patten

      … but the first step to change is awareness, right? It’s like that Maya Angelou quote “when we know better we do better.” 🙂

  • Sheila Callaham

    Yes, yes, yes! I love the idea of asking questions to fuel the imagination rather than telling. I do this with my clients but I could do a much better job doing it with my children. Thank you for the reminder!

  • Sheila Kennedy

    Fabulous post! I love the suggestions and will use them with my teenage daughter who is beginning to have those questions pop up in her life. Every parent and teacher and guidance counselor should read this post! Awesome Job Andrea!

  • Linda Joy

    Andrea, so so true. I have so many amazing memories of conversations with my daughter (who is now 30) and tI would walk her thru scenarios getting her to tune into how she wanted to FEEL in her dream scenario instead of what she wanted to DO for a living. Today, as a mom I watch her bring the sMe energy and intent with my 27 mo. granddaughter. Great post, thank you!

  • Deb Coman

    I love this, Andrea. How very true that the most important piece is in communicating with our children in a way that builds them up and yes, that really is the dream that goes beyond. Such important suggestions about how we can be supportive and nurture their dreams.

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