Mondays Work: My daughter wants to be a poet
Q: Our 12-year-old informed us that she is interested in a career as a poet. What can I do to help her pick a career path more likely to help her earn a decent living?
A: Although I understand your concern, don’t overreact to her news. Your daughter is at the age where she is discovering how she fits in the world of work. Expressing her thoughts to you is a healthy conversation; therefore, it is important you celebrate the talents she is recognizing and continue to encourage her process of self-discovery. She needs someone who loves her to provide confidence to her dreams; soon enough, others will begin offering challenging and, too often, negative feedback.
Tell her about the many talents and gifts you see in her. Some of our greatest strengths come so naturally that we don’t even notice or value them. For this reason, it’s important to take note of the activities and occupations toward which she gravitates and does well. Periodically ask questions about what she likes about school, a job or hobby. Actively listen and watch her response, including her eyes, facial expression and tone of voice. Her heart and soul are just as likely to exhibit themselves in her mannerisms as in her words. When you note enthusiasm, tell her, “You have energy when ... you light up when ... you are in your zone when ...”
I also recommend you help her begin a life goals or career dream journal. A written record of her thoughts and notes of your conversations will become a thought-provoking tool as she explores her life plans over the upcoming years. Consider honoring her thoughts by purchasing her a bound, blank journal that is a tangible presence demonstrating her thoughts are important to you.
Finally, be careful not to impose your own desires on her dreams. In our career counseling practice, I often meet people who made an unfortunate career choice because they were influenced by well-intentioned, yet misguided parents, teachers or friends. Surely, our children need our guidance. Yet, they also need the freedom to dream their dreams and hear for themselves the call of their heart. Your daughter may not eventually choose the most lucrative financial path, yet let’s hope she selects a career that brings her both job satisfaction as well as financial stability. ____________________