Tactical Parenting: Encouraging Passion

What do you want to do?

As an adult, I answer the question “what do I need to do” a whole lot more than “what do you want to do?” It seems that as we age we also buy into the idea that our passion needs to take a backseat to our responsibility. That isn’t a bad thing to buy into though, right? I mean – responsibilities are more important than our passion. Right?

Many adults (especially young adults) struggle with the tension between passion and responsibility. As we age, we start to understand that we can’t indulge our passions as much because we need to pay bills and make sure our kids are fed and supplied for. The amount of the struggle has much to do with how your passions line up with the means you use for supplying needs. 

I am a believer that we can lessen the struggle for our kids if we are willing to lean into their passions. As adults with real world experience we can start to identify the passions our kids have and the future those passions can lead to. 

Asking questions like “What do you want to try this weekend?” Or “If YOU were to put together a normal weeknight schedule – what would you include?” “If you were doing your own thing right now, what would you be doing?”

Questions that cause kids to evaluate what they prefer help them to understand what they are passionate about. When kids learn their passions early – it helps them to look for what their passion could lead them to. 

Four key points about encouraging passion in kids.

  1. Base level media consumption doesn’t establish a true passion. 
  2. Kids develop passions by trying things – let them try things (a lot of things).
  3. Trying a lot of things will likely mean quitting a lot of things.
  4. Don’t be afraid to speak into what they should try and what they are growing a passion for.

Base level media consumption. Understand that kids watching YouTube videos all the time doesn’t mean they have a passion to be a YouTuber. I say this with caution, but I have two children. One of them loves watching and consuming youtube videos over and over again. The other one always wants to talk with me ABOUT the YouTuber and how they designed an episode or a video they made. Using computers a lot doesn’t mean you have a passion for computer programming, reading a lot of novels doesn’t mean you have a passion for writing and watching a lot of YouTube videos doesn’t mean you have a passion for video production. Make sure that the “passion” you are leaning in to isn’t just “consumption” – true passion will include injecting effort and hard work when it isn’t required.

Kids develop passions by trying things. The world is big and your child is unique. That can make it real hard to help identify and pour in to their passions. Remember, a lot of things are similar – so as you encourage your child to try new things, make sure they are truly new things. If your child hates playing soccer because there is too much running for what they like – it is safe to say they don’t need to try lacrosse. Try sports, try math clubs and reading clubs, try church related events, try hunting and fishing… let them try things; a lot of things. 

Quitting. Quitting isn’t bad! Let me say that again: QUITTING ISN’T BAD!! I admit, we want kids who will be committed to things so they can build a sense of perseverance and endurance. That makes total sense. However, I don’t want my children to stay committed to diapers and I don’t want them to stay committed to being dried off after their shower by me. We want our kids to quit things. Quitting isn’t a bad thing; quitting too early or too late is a bad thing. I feel like this is likely something most adults haven’t figured out yet either, but we have to learn the art of quitting. Help your children to prefect the art of quitting that helps them to move on to BETTER.

Speak into your child’s passions. Your child doesn’t want to take their first steps without holding your hands, they don’t want to ride without training wheels for the first time without you running by their side and they don’t want to commit fully to a passion without you committing with them. They need you to be their fan, their coach, their teammate, their trainer, their rock, the one they vent to… They need you to speak into their passions. I know what you are thinking: “I don’t know anything about app development.” or “I can barely run 30 feet, and I don’t know what a soccer ball looks like.” That is okay – even more okay given the world we live in. Google it, YouTube it, ask your friend’s older kids about it… Find ways to educate yourself farther ahead than your child at their passions. This isn’t because you are passionate about Minecraft coding or video production; this is because you are passionate about your child. SPEAK into their passions, and if you aren’t capable – become capable.

Help your child answer the question: “What do I want to do?” every day. Don’t let them slide into base level consumption. Encourage them to chase passions and work hard to develop skills. Teach them how and when to quit. Show them that being passionate about things is a good thing!

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