You Don’t Know How? Cool!

Swim Class

How are passions discovered?

Although we seem to  “specialize” earlier and earlier I wonder about that approach.  Does it allow children the time  and freedom needed to discover all of their strengths and interests?

In a recent conversation with a college “almost first-year,” a young friend talked about the need to pursue a career in social work or criminal justice.  People in those professions had been a vital part of her growing-up years and, she said, up until that conversation, becoming one of them was the only way she knew to “make a difference.”

At the time, we were spending time with people who had “made a difference” in other ways; she was open to the idea that people can make more of a difference with “who they are” than with “what they do.”  I was delighted to hear that she was receptive to the idea that “trying lots of things” was a reasonable goal for the college-bound.

So many people shy away from “new” because it’s not comfortable; but what about the lucky ones who learn early on that a certain level of discomfort is the price of admission to a new adventure?  If we don’t encourage our kids to sample a variety  of what comes their way  –from science fairs to swim lessons– how will they discover hidden talents and passions? Parents who value ‘effort’ and ‘risk’ and celebrate ‘trying,’ ‘giving their best effort’ and ‘being open to opportunity’ seem to have kids who try, give their best effort and are open to opportunity!

Whether our kids shine with natural talent for or struggle to master basic skills, we have a chance teach them something special.  Our approach can gift them with the opportunity to show the same respect for everyone who is willing to set aside discomfort, to push themselves toward improvement and give to their best. As with so many aspects of being a parent, it’s attitude.

Excellence matters, but it takes most of us years to find our strengths.  As parents, do we offer enough space in our children’s lives to balance enjoyment of the familiar with exploration of the new?

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