When we first learn that we're having a baby, we develop all kinds of dreams for their future. By the time they're born, we've already made them president, an astronaut, best seller or whatever other high success career we can think of. We all say that we don't care what our kids do as long as they're happy doing it, but we secretly harbor dreams. But the role of a parent is to make sure your child has the tools to be successful, not to determine what avenue of success they might take. If you really want to help your child succeed, you have to encourage them to do the things they are interested in. But first, you have to know what those things are.
Listen to your child. The first thought you probably had after reading the intro was probably something about how you could just talk to your child to learn his or her interests. That was your first mistake. You need to listen to them, not talk to them. Really listen to the things they talk about, no matter what the conversation concerns. You can learn a lot about a person if you just let them talk.
Introduce new things. When I entered college, I thought I knew what I wanted to be. Then I learned about all the classes, degrees and careers available. Some of those things were topic I never even heard of. All of what we do is based on what we know as well as our comfort level with what we know. The younger we are when we're introduced to a topic, the higher our chances of success in working with that topic. Even if you and your child don't enjoy the new interest, it helps to narrow down areas that he or she is not at all curious about.
Learn more about the leisure activities. What parent hasn't seen their child play a video game and secretly thought "Oh well, maybe he'll be a computer whiz who creates some new software" or something similar? Even though you know that may be stretching it, there is something to the idea that you can make a career out of your hobby. You can also learn about your child's personal interactions as you observe their leisure time. What formats are they most comfortable dealing with? Are they inventors or producers? Their leisure time is the time when they are most relaxed and comfortable being themselves. You may get a glimpse of someone you didn't even know existed.
Stop judging what they do. You may be interested in completely different things than your child is. That's to be expected, especially with the advances in technology that offer options parents never had as children. Don't assume that there's something wrong with what your child does just because you don't enjoy it or don't understand it. While I have no urge to play video games for hours on end, my son can't fathom why I would want to spend my time putting beads on material for decoration. They are two different interests because we're two different people. Neither of them is wrong.
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Source: Personal experience