We ask our children this question as soon as they can speak. They’re most likely to respond with a series of professions that they’ve seen or heard of from somewhere. Pilots, stewardesses, actors, doctors, dancers, teachers, business men, super heroes… some children even want to become two at once, a business man and a super hero, or popularly known in pop culture as Bruce Wayne. We can roll our eyes now, but don’t you remember the times when we were asked the same question and gave similar answers?
When asked this questions, many of the answers are mere fantasies. Not many of us who gave such answers ended up being Bruce Wayne when we grew up. But we doubt that at such an early age, we would have said that we wanted to be a moments-capturer, a photographer, or a set-designer, or a stylist of photo shoots. None of us ever said that we wanted to be marketers or communications practitioners, but here we are. We believe that the shift from what we wanted to be to the person we have actually become have a lot to do with the expectations that we placed upon us (by parents or by society), and as a result of influence, we have stepped into reality and completely threw our dreams of being Bruce Wayne out the window.
Isn’t amazing how children are naturally confident in their own abilities – to dream and to become whatever they dream to be – without being dragged down by the weight of reality? These are called aspirations, and we are strong believers that as parents, we should never allow our children to stop aspiring to be whoever they want to be, and that we should always encourage them to continue believing that they can achieve anything they set their eyes on. We shouldn’t kill their dreams or brush off their dreams of being an ice-cream delivery truck who brings happiness to children by presenting them with the reality of troubled finances in the future, or dreams of being an actress with thoughts of rejection and dirty practices. Instead, we should be supportive by exposing them to professions that they aspire to have and by showing them the possibilities of the persons that they can actually become. For example, if your child aspires to be an actor or actress, instead of presenting them with harsh reality, try enrolling them in an acting class or encourage them to join the school play.
We should always encourage our children to dream… and to dream big. However, children also need to understand that life is not always fair, that it is full of challenges. As we encourage them to dream, we also have to supplement them with the right attitude. We need to teach our children to never give up because hard work always pay off and that while success will take a lot of our time and energy, it won’t be forever. We need to teach our children to fight… and to persistently go after their dreams. Reality may bring them down, but only if they let it, because once they know how to keep their eyes on the prize, they will reap the reward.
Parents, let’s go back to the times when we were younger, when we believed that we could be anything we want to be. Let’s stay in that moment for a while – linger in the feeling, revel in the moment. Then, the next time you ask your children about what they want to be when they grow up, multiply their dreams and equip them to go after it!