As moms and grandmas, we have such an opportunity–in our words, our tone, our actions–to help our kids’ dreams grow from tiny sparks into flames.
Or, if we aren’t careful, we can diminish their dreams, minimize them, and even put them out.
Sometimes, our kids and grandkids are clear about what they dream of becoming or doing when they grow up. But, more often than not, the clues to their dreams–the clues to who they were created to be–lie in the little things they say and do.
My ten-year-old loves to understand how things work and is fascinated by how things are made. He’s always asking questions (and more questions), some of which blow my mind. Does this mean he’ll end up being an engineer?
I don’t know. He loves other things too.
His eyes light up when he mentions coming up with his own business idea or inventing something that nobody else has thought of. He’s got a strong sense of right and wrong and he talks about maybe being a police officer someday.
And while I don’t know what he’ll grow up to be or do, I do know that how I listen (or not), how I respond (or not), and how I encourage (or not) when he talks about what’s important to him, can make all the difference in whether he pursues his dreams (or not).
So how can we help our kids and grandkids follow their dreams as they grow up? Here are six tips:
- Talk to them about their dreams. Encourage them, even at a young age, to think about what they like to do and what they imagine themselves becoming when they grow up. Remind them that all things are possible (Philippians 4:13) and that they can positively impact the world through their individual gifts and talents.
- Get your kids dream journals to help them capture their dreams. (Hat tip to The Dream Manager, the book that gave me this idea and the book that’s not only a great business book, I think it’s a great parenting book as well.)
- Take note. Pay attention to the activities that make your kids excited and enthused vs. the activities they don’t enjoy. Make an effort to notice what helps your kids grow and what fulfills them.
- Don’t stop at taking note; take action. If your daughter excels at science and asks to go to a science camp, don’t send her to soccer camp instead because that sounds more fun to you. If your son is enrolled in Karate and he hates it, finish the commitment, then try looking for an activity he loves. Be perceptive about what interests your kids (sports? music? math? art?), then find activities that will nurture those interests and talents. If your kids are older, talk to them about the strengths you see in them, encourage them to research different school or career options, and help empower them to make changes in their lives if necessary to be able to follow their dreams.
- Share your dreams. When your kids see you dreaming, they’ll learn to dream too.
- Love unconditionally. In the same way your dreams might have changed throughout your life, your kids’ dreams will likely change as they grow. Be supportive and encouraging and let them know that failure can be an important learning experience.
Helping your kids and grandkids to follow their dreams isn’t about pushing them to do what you want, or about accomplishing more, faster.
It’s about encouraging them to find their gifts and strengths, helping them to have the confidence to try new things and follow their hearts, and supporting them along the way.