Stop Asking Kids What They Want to Be When They Grow Up (They Don't Always Know!) by Dawn Taylor

4 years ago

Stop Asking Kids What They Want to Be When They Grow Up (They Don't Always Know!)

We all know kids who have always known what they want to be when they grow up – I have one of them. She wants to be a lawyer and eventually a politician. But, up until she was about 5 years old, she wanted to be a cupcake. Yes, a cupcake.

While I know many people have a strong pull toward something, many do not, and this is OK. My other three kids fall under that heading. They are smart, capable and want to succeed, but they still aren't entirely sure about what they will do. One is 29, one is a rising senior in college and the other a rising sophomore in high school. Heck, I am 54 and have no idea really. I love my job as a personal trainer. I have a Masters in Educational Leadership and a Bachelor of Arts in English, and I still struggle with what I want to be when I grow up.

Asking kids what they want to be when they grow up might seem innocent enough, but in truth it can add pressure to kids who are still trying to figure it out. Yes, they can still go to college and earn a degree without knowing for sure what they plan to do. Many will graduate from college and never work in fields even related to their degrees. The degree affords connections, networks and many other skills that will help them in their eventual careers, so it is still money well spent. (And, yes, push for good grades so they earn scholarships and grants while attending college to minimize any student debt.)

Of course, if you have a child like I do who just knows, that is OK, too. She is internally driven and passionate about her goals, and I support her 100 percent. But recently I saw my other daughter was feeling badly because she doesn't know. I assured her it is OK and she will figure it out.

Life is not static. Life is a dynamic flow of many different things, some very unexpected and our paths might not always end up where we planned on going. More important than having a Plan A is knowing how to navigate a Plan B – or even a Plan C.

Kids don't have to know what that they plan on doing for a career, and they should know that it might change many times in their lives. Instead, let's encourage their growth and strengths while they grow up, and see where that leads them, organically.

And if all else fails, they can become a cupcake.

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Elisa Schmitz
I love this, Dawn Taylor . You are so right. It sometimes takes a while for kids (and adults) to figure out what they want to be. The process is evolving and becoming is so important.
Dawn Taylor
Elisa All Schmitz 30Seconds Donna John im not sure if I accidentally wrote “rising sophomore in college” it should have read “rising sophomore in high school “ My daughter is now going into 10th grade to clarify. Canadian mistake to classify her that way. 🤔
I needed this! My kiddo will be entering high school this year and I’m beginning to worry about all the things! Last summer he wanted to live in the woods and live off the land...we are now exploring being a park ranger. I’m sure he will figure it out. 😂
Dawn Taylor
Renee Herren I realized with my oldest sons that it is THEIR journey and just like I did, (sort of as I have changed my path many times) they will figure out their own path. :)
Terri Kendrick
I have a 23-year-old nephew who decided, after three tries, that college just isn't for him right now. He is exploring during this stage of his life. He's worked on a farm in Kansas, at a vineyard in CA, at a greenhouse here at home and is now moving to Austin with no job at all. He doesn't want to work in a job he hates or wait until he's retired, like our generation, to experience different places and different people. I have to say that he might have a point!!
Dawn Taylor
I finally realized after my oldest decided not to go to college that it’s HIS journey and as an adult he has to figure it out. Pressuring younger kids to decide before their ready is not helpful in my opinion. You can only offer support. 🙂
Ann Marie Patitucci
Thanks, Dawn. This is so true. My 9th grader isn't sure what he wants to do and he feels pressure (not from us) to know. The constant questions about it from others just adds to the stress.

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