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What do you want to be when you grow up?

It’s a question we all ask our kids.  I’m not sure why, but it’s just so darn exciting to hear what they’ll say.  Maybe we’re hoping they’ll say Tiger Woods.  Or Britney Spears.  Then again, maybe not.  Yikes.

The first time I asked our six-year-old this question was when he was about four-and-a-half years old.  He told me he wanted to be a paleontologist.  And a policeman.  And a race-car driver.  He said it with a straight face.

I smiled and told him he was going to be a busy guy.  He responded by saying he wanted to be a daddy as well.  Melt my heart.

When I asked our daughter this question, she was just under four-years old.  She said she wanted to be a ballerina teacher.  And a mommy.  She’s recently added paleontologist to the list.  Which makes sense, of course, now that she’s four-and-a-half.

So when should we start taking this question seriously?  Should we have our children enrolled at dinosaur camps across the U.S.?  Should we be teaching our son about law enforcement?  Should we have our daughter creating lesson plans for her ballerina class?

The reason I ask this question is because I see a lot of parents out there who don’t know what they want to be when they grow up.  Some are OK with it.  Others are not.  I think it’s something we should explore more often with our children as a lot of them have passions that are already emerging and it would be great to harness that energy.  Perhaps we can even give them a gentle nudge down the right path.

For example, that little boy (my son) who said he wants to be a race-car driver recently asked me if we could spend Saturday watching NASCAR together.  I chuckled.  However, when I did remember to turn on the TV during a recent NASCAR event (which I never do) he was so excited he could barely contain himself.  He immediately honed in on the #18 car (with the M&M paint job) and cheered for it the entire time.

So now I’m asking myself, “does he really want to be a race-car driver when he grows up?  Should we be seeking a sponsor who can get us a race-car?”

When did you know what you wanted to be?  Should we encourage our kids to give their future more consideration?  Did you actually become what you wanted to be?

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8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dan J. #

    Nice. I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. Racecar driver doesn’t sound so bad.

    September 26, 2012
  2. AP #

    This is a really interesting topic. I remember as a kid taking this question very seriously and then as I got older (high school and college) I felt like I had to stick with what I had “picked” to be, even though I didn’t feel as excited about the actual work involved. I ended up in a career I didn’t really like and am still working to move forward with what I really love at the age of almost 40. I try to focus with my kids on what do you love to “do” instead of what do you want to “be.” Because the doing will drive the being. And honestly, by the time they grow up, there will be so many things to do that don’t even exist now!

    September 27, 2012
  3. Mike #

    Mr. Shafer, I do, in fact, think we should spend a little more time with our kids learning about what they like to do and what might be some good options for them for their future. I wouldn’t want to force them into anything, but I don’t think it hurts to explore.

    September 27, 2012
  4. AJS #

    For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a teacher. My mother was a teacher, her mother was a teacher and my oldest sister (by 9 years) also became a teacher. However, a strange thing happened to me along the way. During the summer after my freshman year of college, I sold textbooks with a friend. We ended up doing well and I decided to study business instead because I became fascinated with Marketing. Fast forward nine years and I still enjoy business and am thinking about my own venture. I have a lot of respect for teaching/teachers, however, it just didn’t work for me. So the long answer is I did not become what I planned to be, but ended up becoming something that was a better fit in the long run.

    September 27, 2012
  5. Sally M. #

    The twins like to paint. All the time. Something tells me they may be doing something with it (paint) when when they grow up. It’s kind of cute. I think.

    September 28, 2012
  6. sp #

    Love it! Encourage him to own the race car rather than drive it. It’s much better for his long-term health.

    September 28, 2012
  7. I think a lot of times we grow up to be many different things. Looking back, we can see that what we’ve become has roots in our childhood. With that said, whenever my kids have an interest I try to feed it. Finley likes mummies, so our house has a steady stream of mummy books, Egyptian toys. We go to mummy exhibits. We have a mummy birthday party. He may not become an Egyptologist, but his passion and curiosity will definitely pay off somehow.

    October 1, 2012
  8. I REALLY like this part, “He may not become an Egyptologist, but his passion and curiosity will definitely pay off somehow.” Thanks for the note Kirsten.

    October 2, 2012

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