Recently on a mom’s panel I was asked, “How did you discern your children’s career desires/passions and how did that direct their educational choices both in high school and transitioning beyond high school to college?”
My short answer was, “know your child(ren) well. Become a student of each child.”
I believe that the greatest task we have as moms is to know each of our children as God created them to be, “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Their personality will begin to emerge early on as toddlers. I still remember Caryn, my Sanguine child, always smiling, saying hi to strangers she encountered, wanting to invite everyone to her birthday parties and being so animated. She was given the “most friendliest,” award by Sunday School teachers and peers. Then Courtney came along and was the polar opposite. When strangers looked at her, she cried, her parties consisted of only two or three close friends, and she was quiet or as others would say shy. However, numerous friends would comment on how wise Courtney way.
I know first hand how damaging it can be to not value an individual for who they are. I was brought up in a home where there were favorites, and it wasn’t me; where relational needs (acceptance, affection, appreciation, approval, attention, comfort) went unmet, and fear dismissed. Somehow my God given personality (sanguine) was masked as (melancholy) as it probably conflicted with my parents. Growing up my passions and accomplishments were not celebrated. Growing up I just wanted to be known and loved for who I was. Thankfully I came to know the Lord and discovered my true identity. My husband too has been a huge source of encouragement. As I began to know myself and walk closely with the Father, I sought to know each of my daughters as the unique individual they were created to be which has tremendously blessed them.
While brining up our daughters, we provided many opportunities for them to try various sports (tennis, swimming, basketball, soccer, etc.), art classes, acting, choir, music lessons, etc.. It can be hard to figure out a child’s passion until they have an opportunity to experience it. In order to keep the balance in the home, we would only allow each child two activities outside the home protecting family and dinner time. Children will thrive and put forth extra effort when they discover a passion.
Honestly we never advocated college. However, we felt that if God put the desire to go to college on our child’s hearts we would do our best to provide for them. There were plenty of other voices sharing with them the benefits of attending college 😉 I truly believe that as parents we need allies especially adults our children look up to. I remember Caryn coming back from Africa wanting to head straight into full-time ministry. A dear friend and a few missionary friends shared with her how many doors would open up for her with a college degree. Our kids are smart we just need to empower them with the truth.
At 15, Caryn showed an interest in photography, so we bought her a camera for her birthday and eventually enrolled her in various workshops and classes during her high school years. I even came along side her to help her start a photography business and thus began her career at 16 when she was asked to do her first wedding, and the rest is history. You can view her amazing work at carynnoel. She has an impressive portfolio. Today at 25 she travels the world doing humanitarian photography and supporting herself financially through her personal photography business.
Courtney not only finished high school at 16, but she began working at Veritas Academy as a Kindergarten Aid for several years. Ever since she was young, Courtney has been a lover of children so as her mom, I encouraged her to babysit and use her gifts. She has worked as a nanny, private teacher, and virtual assistant being adored by those who employed her. She has also shown musical and artistic aptitude so we provided necessary classes to refine her natural talents. For the past two years, Courtney has worked on the campus of UCSD for a ministry reaching out to college students and is a gifted writer. Occasionally you can find her pondering life on her personal blog and assisting others. When she began her blog, it was called “Confessions of an X Introvert.” She is lively and expressive, far from being a mere introvert. It’s important that we never box in our children by viewing them only one way as no one likes labels.
We are helping our youngest as she discovers her passions and interest. Investment in various lessons are being made to help her discover what she enjoys. We’ve noticed her spending her free time playing the guitar and singing which is a good indication of a passion. However, being thirteen she has plenty of time to figure it out and we will continue to support her.
As you study your child and seek the Holy Spirit for wisdom, you will discern their desires and passions. Once you identify their passions be sure to provide opportunities to refine their gifts though classes, workshops, mentoring, etc. Every time I’m together with my daughters I learn something new about them and see new growth.
I challenge you to become a student of your children and begin to discover what their personality, love language, and passions are.