Have you ever heard (or said yourself) the words, “I want my child’s future to be full of possibilities.” I understand the intent behind those words, but I’m not so sure I agree with them.
As a homeschooling Mom, I kinda think it’s my job to limit my child’s future possibilities. For example, Brett is barely 5 feet tall. I’m sorry to tell her, but she’s never going to be a woman’s basketball professional athlete. That possibility really isn’t open to her. And while she’s good at math, she doesn’t really enjoy it. Working as a NASA scientist is probably not a good career choice either.
The more I learn about my children and study them, the more I see possible career paths that are good choices and ones that are bad choices. The more I can narrow down the possibilities for them, the less overwhelming the “what do I want to be when I grow up” question becomes.
Another example – Hewitt for the past few years has said he wants to be a fighter pilot. My brother was a pilot in the air force and I know just a little bit about what that requires. While Hewitt doesn’t have asthma, he was hospitalized with double pneumonia when he was three, and when he gets sick, it tends to settle in his chest. I will also catch him wheezing once or twice during cross-country season. In talking with some people, this would probably wipe out his chances of being accepted as a fighter pilot since they need to be perfectly healthy.
So do I encourage Hewitt in his desire to fly fighter jets? Nope. Do I discourage it? Not actively. Do I encourage him in other directions? Yes, definitely.
I personally believe that no parent or adult should determine what a child should do as a job/career for the rest of their lives. But I believe children and teenagers need a lot more active direction than they are currently receiving. That means that I am purposely limiting the possibilities that my children consider open to them.
Years ago, I spoke with an older teenager who wanted to be a police office. I asked him about his reasons. He gave me some very good reasons and a few unimportant ones. Then I asked him about what he envisioned his family life looking like. He went into great detail about having a wife and a bunch of children and how they would spend their days. The differences in his answers were astounding. He was very logical in talking about being a police officer. He was very animated and emotional when talking about his possible family. I then asked him this question, “How do you think your future family will feel about you being a police officer and how will it affect their lives?” He just stopped, looked at me, and said, “Nobody has ever asked me that before.”
We talked a few more minutes before he had to leave. I never found out what he ended up doing with his life (he was a stranger I met at an event). But I’d like to think that whatever he chose to do as a job/career, that he made that choice with his future family in mind and not just his teenage self.
My children probably don’t realize it, but I am always working in the background trying to help them figure out at a relatively early age what they should do with the rest of their lives. To me, how it impacts family life is a priority and how much potential income it makes is not.
If you ask Emery what he wants to do with his life, he says he would like to deliver baby goats year-round. Since that’s probably not going to happen, I’m trying to find out what else he’s passionate about. Right now, at Goat Milk Stuff, Emery is making all of our candy (fudge, toffee, caramels, etc.), all of our breads (baguettes, rolls, bagels), and our baked goods (cookies and muffins).
A few months ago I signed us both up for Bread Camp. I did this for several reasons:
Right now, he’s just following my bread recipes. I wanted him to find out for himself whether he was as passionate about creating new breads as he is about creating new chocolates.
We had an incredible time at Bread Camp. It was very special for the two of us to do something together. I really enjoy Emery’s company (and he acts like he enjoys mine!) We had great teachers and our fellow classmates were a lot of fun to be with. We learned several new recipes and lots of techniques. And we got to make pizzas in the wood burning oven.
I am definitely going to get a wood burning oven* some day. The chief takeaway for me with it is that my plan to put it by my firepit would have been a huge mistake. I need it closer to my kitchen. So when we build our deck (don’t ask me when that will ever happen), I will incorporate the woodburning oven there. I’m also planning at some point to somehow incorporate a wood burning oven into Goat Milk Stuff so we can offer artisan pizzas with goat cheese.
As for Emery, I think he’s excited about becoming a better baker and exploring what he wants to do with it. He was very competent at camp and I think that made him feel very good. Right now, he’s hoping to launch a CSB (Community Supported Bread) program. He’s thinking of starting with a 6 week program. He will make 6 different breads and every member of the program will get 1 loaf a week. Knowing ahead of time how many he has sold will help him to know exactly how much he has to bake. This will minimize waste which is helpful because wasted bread is discouraging.
Whether or not Emery decides to do something with bread, we had a wonderful experience together and he will either be able to add bread baking as a possibility as a future career or rule it out. But the main point is that Emery had the opportunity to learn and experience what a professional bread baker’s life looked like.
This hands-on experience is so important for teens to help them know whether or not they want to make something a career. I have a lot of friends who went to college to study a subject, only to graduate and find out they hated working in their field. Was their education a complete waste? No, learning is never a complete waste. But it had a huge opportunity cost for them. I’d much rather guide the children into narrowing down the possibilities and give them some real world experience before they commit to a college degree in that field.
What about you? Were you given good advice when you were a teen about job possibilities? If you’re a parent, do you think everything should be a possibility for your child? Or are you trying to help your child narrow it down?