Our children each have their own likes and interests. Your child's interests - are you encouraging them or discouraging them?
Encourage Your Child's Interests
I’m the mom to a boy. The rough and tumble had to get dirty kind when he was little. So dirty, there would be a ring around the tub when the water drained after bathtime at night. When asked what he wanted to do when he grew up, his answer was always the same – to be just like my Daddy. My husband drives big trucks and works heavy equipment. At an early age, my son was taught the equipment my husband used and when driving down the road and one was spotted, he’d tell us. I even took him to my husband’s work where he would get to see the big trucks up close and personal. He was encouraged to learn more about what he wanted to be.
Over the years, my son pursued steer wrestling and bull riding because he wanted to be like his father. While there were times this momma’s heart was in her throat, I never tried to discourage his interests. Our move to Montana killed it after one season of youth rodeo. Deep down inside, I wish we never moved there because he truly loved the sport. While I now breathe a sigh of relief, I know when my sweet son is in his 40’s he’ll be glad he stopped. He’ll be too young to deal with all the aches and pains that eventually come by hitting the ground, being stepped on, and being dragged across a ring.
When I started the journey of home education, the one thing I wanted for my son was to be a book lover – a reader who can’t put a book down. I just knew he would love reading since he was read to from the time he was a little tot. But that hasn’t happened. For him to read we have to find books that spark an interest and even then sometimes it is like pulling teeth.
Little did I know my love for history would spark a love in my son. While I love anything history related, he has honed in on his true love – the WWII era.
Children are complete individuals with their own interests and likes.
My parents were of the generation where children didn’t pursue interests. As soon as they were old enough or finished with school – they went to work. Because of this, I was not encouraged to pursue more than one interest. While the ultimate dream for me was being a wife and mother, I had interests I wanted to pursue, but I could only pursue the piano. After all the money dumped into lessons and the many hours of practice, I don't have the playing ability to show for it. While I'd like to blame it on the teachers and my discipline in practicing, I just don't have a natural talent like others do.
Yes, it's hard to watch your children enjoy a sport you know can have a painful future. Yes, it's hard to see a love you want your children to have not grow. No matter the situation if they love it and have an interest in it – encourage them to pursue it. If they don’t have an interest in it, don’t force it.
Three Ways To Help Encourage Your Child's Interests
Guidance- talk with your children about their interests and dreams. Be encouraging by not shooting down their interests. If a child is interested in sports and dreams of going to the big league – help them be realistic. Children need to learn early on there is always the possibility they won’t make it. If they do, they may never be the one on all the magazine covers. But that doesn’t mean they should not give their all to the sport they love. Remind them “There is always more than one way to be a star”.
Moral Support- providing our children with challenges to help grow their love for an interest is needed to build confidence. These challenges should not be used in a way to kill the spirit they have for the interest. If it so happens, they have no natural talent or a true love in their interest, find a way for them see this for themselves. Don’t plug the holes in a sinking boat if they are second guessing their interest. If they have more than one interest, focus on another for a while.
Financial Support- sometimes our children have a love for something that will cost money. Providing the opportunity for your child to cultivate their love or ability in what they are interested in helps them grow. Two examples: Bull riding equipment, practice pen fees, entry fees, across country bull riding school with a world champion bull rider. Military museums are a perfect place to get up close and personal with WWII aviation and ground forces while learning more about them. Don’t let your children hear the words, “We don’t have the money for that.” Get proactive to provide the opportunity they need to pursue their interest. Again, no matter if there is real natural talent or a true love for the interest, don’t bankrupt yourself trying to feed the dream or interest. Children need to know there are limits to things in life.