When your kids are young, and you ask them what they want to become when they grow up, they would usually say movie star, singer or dancer. There isn’t a parent around who hasn’t posed this question. At a young age this is cute and fun. Over the last few years you might have heard blogger, vlogger or YouTube(r) (influencer) as options kids think about nowadays as the equivalent for those who are more name and fame minded. With influencers and streamers being as big as they are right now, kids are dreaming of just conquering the world from behind their own desk.
More traditional examples you get are within the sports industry. Your sporty kids will come up with saying professional footballer, tennis player or race car driver. They will switch ambition (or intensify that ambition) when they discover how good they are at their chosen sport. The choice in sport is usually driven by what a parent watches and supports.
Alternatively, the more wonky kids might say veterinarian, doctor or police officer, and as they grow older, they will become more specific on the specialization therein. So veterinarian becomes exclusively for horses, the doctor will be a brain surgeon, and the police officer will be a detective. This is usually the moment when the ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’-the game becomes more a ‘maybe this is good to stimulate’ topic for parents.
And as your kids grow older, you try to stimulate and encourage their curiosity, even if the career they have in mind changes every day. Your aim to not stand in their way, better yet support them, as they start forming an idea of who they might want to be later in life. Here is an interesting dilemma though, do you support every single ambition your kid has? Some parents would cringe at the idea of your kid wanting to be a YouTube or Twitch streamer. How could that be a legitimate choice? How much weight should you put on the balance? Here are some exciting options.
What if your kid has a fascination with the garbage removal people? No-one can deny they perform an essential service in life, making sure households are not buried and trash and therefore improving overall hygiene and health. But would you stimulate a career like that or would you nudge your kid away from it? Let’s be fair, it’s an honest living and a vital part of keeping a community functioning. Could you get over the fact that your child will be dealing with other people’s trash? And if that idea evokes embarrassment, what are you precisely embarrassed about?
What is your kid wants to be a lawyer? Most parents would go: “great”! Lawyers need to be smart, are respected, and they can command large fees. But what if, being influenced by a film, they want to know more about accident injury attorneys? Do you feel that there is a stigma around this type of law professional? Would you start pushing your child to family law or corporate law? I.e. stop them from watching the movie Philadelphia (in which Denzel Washington effectively plays an injury lawyer) and get them to watch the series Suits? Can we really say that one specialization in law is better than the other? Can you genuinely deny that injury lawyers don’t fulfill a role in society to ensure that people who have become injured, due to no fault of their own, can have proper legal representation?
Or what if your child wants to make art his or her path in life? Immediate flashes of ‘starving artist’ will pop up for most parents. This is a difficult one because as a parent you will be encouraging this direction every time you automatically say something is beautiful or amazing when your child shows you his or her drawing, painting or crafts project. Obviously, there are worse paths in life than aspiring to be, but parents will have an inner desire to ensure your children will make smart (financial) choices in life. And when you say artist, you could also consider actor/actress in the same bracket. The stats are dizzying of how many try and how few succeed.
It’s tough to know where the parental responsibility ends and where the stimulation of a child to become their own little person begins. Some would argue that starting early in their lives, making some firm decisions is not a choice, it’s an imperative. This will fit with so-called ‘tiger moms’. Other would argue that your kids will find their own way, and now is the time for play and exploration. Regardless of what you choose and what you encourage actively or passively, it’s important to be respectful of those people in these professions right now. The last thing you want to encourage and teach is disdain of people purely based on their chosen career.