Following Your Dreams

Many children have what adults often view as unrealistic dreams for the future. But as a parent, I have come to think that it's important to be open to and encouraging of our children's dreams



Going back in time

My son has always expressed a desire to build a Time Machine, and after a pretty arduous week at work, I began to wish he really could! Can you imagine just how many things this could help with? Things you wish you'd never said, things you wish you'd tried harder at and best of all, the chance to revisit opportunities you wished you'd been brave enough to take advantage of.

I don't have many regrets, but if I could pick one, it would be that I didn't tell my late dad more often how much I loved him. He could be a complex person at times, my dad, but he was a huge character; highly sociable, funny and the sort of person towards whom people gravitated, especially at parties.

He was pioneering, aspirational and took chances, not all of which paid off, but his attitude was always "nothing ventured, nothing gained" and "you're a long time dead". So, after a hellish week, I found myself reflecting upon all of this and taking a look at how, over the years, I've approached my own kids' dreams and aspirations, and I don't think I've done too badly so far.

Dreams of a nine year old

My daughter has always wanted to be a vet (no surprise there for a nine year old girl) and I've encouraged her, telling her to follow her dreams, as long as she's happy. Considering the huge volume of study and qualifications involved, and knowing this may not be the easiest career to achieve, I've tried to remain realistic whilst not making her goal feel out of reach to her.

She's bright, but not quite fully aware that the job criteria entails more than just popping on a uniform and making sick animals feel better, so the learning part will either be okay or it will scare her off of its own accord. This is fine though, since she's also expressed an interest in the following vocations: Tooth fairy, singer, Lego designer, Zoo keeper and "someone who works in a factory tasting sweets", so lots to fall back on if the vet thing doesn't work out.

Keeping an open mind

My son also has his dream career - he currently wants to be a video game designer. Of course he does - he's thirteen years old. My immediate reaction to this was the same as many parents' these days, to dismiss it as sheer folly, but when I bothered to consider the facts: how much money there is in the industry, the ever present need for new and evolving gaming technology and the sheer enormity of the marketplace, why wouldn't this be a viable and sensible career option for a young person?

So, I don't think I've done that badly so far, and at least it's been a reminder to keep an open mind to all manner of weird and wacky career suggestions that my kids may come up with and not dismiss them too quickly as ridiculous or unachievable.

Who knows, with the right encouragement, maybe my son will be the first person to build a Time Machine, and I can go back, take that PhD in Forensic Science and get that top job at MI6 I always dreamed about!

Jayne, Working Mum and Freelance Editor

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