In her book How to Raise an Adult, Julie Lythcott-Haimes writes "study what you love and the rest will follow". She writes that when you love a subject you are motivated to attend all the lectures, to read around the subject, to meet with your tutors and to formulate your own thoughts and ideas. You might end up with a good grade simply because of this intrinsic motivation, and even if you don't you are sure to get a good letter of recommendation about your curiosity and determination. She writes, "If you have the guts to study what you love regardless of what other people say, it leads precisely to the kind of success you're looking for."
It all comes down to purpose. Parents cannot give a child purpose, but they can help their children to find it. Here is what Julie recommends:
- Embrace the kid you have - value and love what they are interested in, rather than trying to push them into what they are good at. Know when to pull back.
- Listen for clues - encourage them to be creative and experiment and support promising options.
- Remember children are wildflowers, not bonsai trees - accept that it is about your child, not you. Pay attention to their interests, what concerns them, how they like to participate. Purpose is the centre of the diagram above, your job as a parent is to "fan the flames".
- Support their strengths rather than focusing on remediating their weaknesses. Help them to find mentors outside of the family.
- Prepare them for hard work, building relationships and perseverance and don't do too much for them. It's important that they are the ones to make it happen.
- Find your own purpose and share your passions with your children. Let them be inspired by how you are pursuing your own dreams.
- Let them go - your children are not living extensions of you.