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Posted on Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 5:14 a.m.

Mondays Work: My daughter wants to be a poet

By Nick Synko

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. ____________________

Send your career-related questions to me at To learn more, visit our website at Synko Associates or follow this column each Monday in


Money Bags

Sat, Mar 19, 2011 : 2:14 a.m.

Dear Daddy, Since we're speaking of poetry, let me draw on poet Sylvia Plath: You do not do, you do not do Any more, black shoe In which I have lived like a foot For thirty years, poor and white, Barely daring to breathe or Achoo. ("Daddy") While "Daddy" doesn't address the speaker's father for stifling her imagination & creativity, I can't help but see that black shoe in your question of career paths & earning decent wages. How crushing to fear breathing or sneezing or writing before an oppressor. What joy is there in work that one does not love, or least, find pleasure? What hope is there in developing a society of intelligent, passionate, inventive citizens who push past the idea that wealth is more important than health and happiness? Why raise another executive who demands a bonus after being bailed out by our government? And if your child is twelve years old, then isn't this the time for her to play, imagine, and figure out what she loves? Please encourage your child, bring home poetry books, find a class for her to learn how to be an amazing poet, so she can succeed at what she loves, rather than push her toward something she doesn't love. When I was in college, my neighbor was studying chemistry in order to become a doctor, the way her parents wanted her to. She was failing Calculus I, barely passing chemistry, and truly loved the humanities. I lost track of her over the years, but I hope she finally figured out that it is better to study and work at what you care about, what you're gifted at, than to choose a career path for someone who doesn't have to live that life. Imagine this: she finishes high school, goes to college, studies medicine, does her residency, and about 16 years later, comes to realize that she doesn't like being a doctor, she wants to be a poet, or a musician, or whatever she decides to be next month. What a waste. An Unhappy Executive Banker


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 6:40 p.m.

Dear Parent, If your child grows up to be a poet and is happy, then why not? Some poets enjoy what they do regardless of how much money they earn. Some poets sell books. Some poets earn the National Book Award and Pulitzers. Some poets read for free, and some poets earn $7500 per reading. Some poets teach high schoolers how to read, write, and think, and some poets teach creative writing at the college/university level. Some poets also write memoirs and novels. Some poets are doctors who write on the side. Some poets are editors for national magazines or for highly-respected presses. Some poets fight for environmental change. Some poets work for banks. Some lovers of poetry are too busy to write poetry, so they're lawyers and support poetry by reading poetry. Poets speak truths, draw on the imagination, love language, know how to think through a situation, reveal humanity in unexpected and moving ways, and push their readers to see the world, whether it's horrifying or beautiful. Isn't that something to encourage and celebrate? Sincerely, A lover of poetry