Children's Passions Are a Gateway to Meaningful Work

by , M. Ed., Priceless Parenting (sign up for monthly parenting newsletter and receive 20+ printable charts for kids and parents)

(listen to article read by the author)

Child Reading and Teen Graduating

What activities do your children love doing? Where do their talents and passions intersect? As your children grow up they will discover things that they are good at plus enjoy doing.

Your children will build their lives around their strengths, not their weaknesses. By helping them identify and focus on their strengths, you're guiding them to eventually finding meaningful work.

One of the gifts Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, left the world was the commencement speech he gave at the Stanford College graduation in 2005. This speech captured wisdom he had learned from his experiences which guided him to finding his meaningful work.

Dreams for Your Children

What dreams do you have for your children? Do you hope that they will one day go to college? Steve Jobs’ biological mom sure did. She was an unwed college graduate student and decided to have him adopted by college graduates. However, these college graduates wanted a girl not a boy. Steve ended up being adopted by a mom who had not graduated from college and a dad who had not graduated from high school.

His biological mom only agreed to sign the adoption papers after the couple agreed they would send Steve to college. Did they keep their promise? Yes. He attended Reed College for six months before deciding the cost of spending his parents' savings wasn't worth it.

Although he dropped out of college, he attended some of the classes that interested him the most as an observer. While he did not attend college in the way his biological mom hoped he would, he did learn what he needed to know to pursue his own dreams.

Your Children's Great Work

What type of work do you hope your children will someday have? Your children are deeply attuned to your desires for them.

While you want only the best for your children, if they pursue your dreams instead of their own dreams they will be on the wrong path. They may end up attending years of schooling to achieve a career only to find out that they do not enjoy that work.

Some children know what they want to do when they grow up from an early age. However, this is rare. Most follow a more crooked and winding path. There may even be some dead ends along the way.

Steve Jobs spoke about finding what he loved to do early in life. When he began Apple with Steve Wozniak, he was working hard doing something he loved. The company grew to over 4000 employees complete with a Board of Directors. The Board eventually fired Steve Jobs when there was a serious disagreement over future directions.

Although it was devastating for Jobs to be fired from the company he started, he realized he still loved the work. He was also free from the restrictions of a large company and went on to start two new companies, NeXT and Pixar.

His career path had a number of twists along the way. He gave this advice to the Stanford graduates, "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it."

Your kids may be many years away from finishing school and pursuing a career. However, they can start dreaming about how they’d like to help the world. Thinking through possibilities is the first step in finding the ideas that stir up excitement.

Empowering Your Kids to Live Their Own Brilliant Lives

You may have strong feelings about the type of life you want your children to live. Most parents find it very challenging when their children make decisions that are not in alignment with who they want their children to be.

However, the way your children choose to live out their lives is ultimately their decision. Jobs stated it this way, "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become."

Your children's lives are a gift. Your guidance can help them unwrap and enjoy their gift.

About Kathy Slattengren

Kathy Slattengren

Parenting expert Kathy Slattengren, M. Ed., is dedicated to supporting parents in doing their best parenting. She helps families create homes where everyone feels accepted, heard, respected and appreciated.

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