How do I tell my child the truth?
Recently my daughter was watching the promo shots for the upcoming Olympics. After she watched some skaters, she announced that she wanted to be an Olympic figure skater. She was very serious. She is 16 and has never even been on the ice. I tried to do all the logical stuff but her heart and mind are made up. I don’t want to take away her dreams, that is not fair to her. But I don’t know what to do.
My son wants to play pro football. He is a huge Ravens fan and is sure he could make the team. He is not particularly strong, in fact, his body is rather slight. Additionally, he has some cognitive challenges that I believe would prevent him from learning any plays. I just can’t tell him the truth that this will never happen. I can’t dash his dreams. What should I do?
My daughter can lip synch almost every song. She is sure she will have a singing group and a band one day. It is good she can lip synch because she can’t really sing at all. I have mentioned that very few people make the grade and make big money in the music world but she is sure she will. How can I tell her this is a pipe dream that will never come to pass. She doesn’t believe me.
Our children need us to believe in them. Our children need us to support their dreams. But most of all our children need us to be honest with them.
There is an old saying, that the best way to show that a stick is crooked is to place a straight stick alongside of it. We do our children no benefit to allow them to continue to go down a path that will never lead to the goal they have in mind. First of all, it is dishonest and secondly while I am chasing a rainbow I am not preparing for what could be the real pot of gold in my future.
So, what is a parent to do. There are two approaches that can operate simultaneously. Begin with that crooked stick. Together with your child identify the skills required of the dream job. Ask your child if he/she has those skills. If the child says yes, then push the envelope and ask your child to demonstrate those skills. If the child says he or she can learn them, don’t be afraid to hold up that mirror and show your child that the skills haven’t come yet and probably won’t.
Then before you totally dash all hope, move to a reasonable approximation of the dream. A youngster may want to be a veterinarian. The fact is it is tougher to become a veterinarian than it is to become a medical doctor. There are fewer schools of veterinary medicine so it is much harder to get into one. But there are jobs and training programs for vet techs or veterinary assistants. Kennels always need good help. A child can still be with animals and help make animals well.
There are lots of other approximation jobs that are differently skilled than the so-called dream jobs.
Above all, you want your children to tell you the truth so you owe it to them to be honest with them as well.