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Childhood ambitions—why do we change our dreams?

Child dressing up as an astronautOnce upon a time I wanted to be a wildlife documenter (a la David Attenborough). Then a professional horse rider, then a veterinarian, then a kindergarten teacher, then a high school teacher…I ended up as none of those things.

While I am secure in the fact that what I’m doing is right for me, and what I love, it does make you wonder why I didn’t pursue my wildlife documenter dreams, or my horse riding dreams, or any of the others.

Maybe it is ingrained in us that childhood dreams are just that—for childhood. Maybe it is ingrained in us that what we want to be when we “grow up” is not the same as what we ought to be when we “grow up”. I’ll never know if I could document wildlife the way I used to dream, but maybe our kids can.

Sure, my dream was ambitious. Was it uncommon? Perhaps. Was it possible? Definitely. It’s not like wildlife documenters don’t exist. It’s not like I wanted to become a sorcerer, or a giant frog. I get that kids need to move on from impossible ideas, but many times what we think might be impossible, is simply more difficult than some things, or even most.

Difficult is not a reason to stop trying. People struggle to fall pregnant every day; it’s incredibly difficult. Do they stop, or give up? Not likely. They exhaust every option before turning to last ditch efforts before giving it one last shot before they give up. Shouldn’t our kids do the same with their dreams?

I can see now that a wildlife documenter who is out in the South American jungle or on the dusty plains of Africa is not for me. I have a terrible sense of direction, I get anxious far too easily, and faint when I get too hot. I don’t really suit that lifestyle. Had I been better at all of the above things—my dream would have been totally doable, with hard work, that is.

What we need to remember when our children come up to us with what seems like an impossible dream is that it might only seem impossible to us, because that’s what we’ve been taught.

The first thing to do is to ask yourself—is this a possibility? Could my child become an astronaut, or a pop star, or a horse whisperer? Well, technically yes, they could.

The next thing to do is see how invested they are in that dream. Is it likely that they’ll be on to a new dream within minutes, or have they got a real interest in the topic?

Then weigh up if you think their personality will suit that dream. Is your little one dreaming of being an astronaut, but afraid of heights? Does your little pop star in the making have a good singing voice? Does your future horse whisperer shy away from big animals?

If some of these things don’t add up, then it might be a good idea to steer their dreams towards a more achievable target. The astronaut is afraid of heights—so maybe they can work at ground control. The pop star can’t sing very well—so maybe they could manage a band or singer. The horse whisperer is shy around big animals—so maybe they could work with little animals.

Sometimes big dreams should be encouraged and embraced—but only if they’re possible. Our kids will never grow up to become magical unicorns, so you should probably try to curb that dream if they seem adamant. On the other hand though, some kids do grow up to be astronauts, or pop stars, or even wildlife documenters. If their dream is possible and suits their personality, then I say go for it!

So long as they are happy and make the most every opportunity or situation they are faced with, they’ll live a successful life.

Being happy and successful in whatever you choose is a pretty big dream in itself. The key to being successful is hard work—so whatever job they end up getting, or start off their working life with, kids should be taught to work hard in order to achieve and be successful.

Whether we like it or not, money is a huge factor in determining how happily we live. We need to teach our kids to cherish their money and their income, whether it be from a little part time job in school, or their dream job that they’ve always wanted to have.

So whether our kids dream of wildlife documenting or becoming an astronaut, we should encourage what is possible, teach them to work hard for what they want, or cherish what they get out of their dreams.

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Our Bub Hub team is in the thick of the sleep deprivation, tantrums and unconditional love that comes with parenting. Plus, with the support of Mater, we have unvetted access to the minds of Australia’s leading ...

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1 Comment so far -
  • Kimberly says:

    I think that far too often kids are told that their dreams are silly. Society conditions us that we need to go to school, get good grades, go to uni, get a good job, get married, buy a house, have kids etc. I actually recently wrote an article that talks about the “Why” stage and why we should embrace it instead of getting annoyed by it. You can see the article here linkedin.com/pulse/article/20140918114431-231335929-encouraging-the-leaders-of-tomorrow?trk=prof-post

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