Donny Deutsch had Chris Rock’s mom on his show the other night. Talk about a fantastic woman: She raised ten children, all of whom have turned out to be successful.
After giving some tips for raising successful children (don’t be their friend, make sure you set boundaries), Donny welcomed on a second guest, and the three began talking about how to raise successful children.
One of the best pieces of advice on the show that really struck out at me was this: Teach your children to discover their passion and then to follow that passion.
I know it is really easy for us as parents to look at our children and want the world for them. We dream of them becoming doctors and lawyers and other professionals that we, and society, have deemed as prestigious, or good, or right. We want them to make money, because as we all know, things are easier when you can pay the bills on time.
Yet in reality it’s important that we take a step back and understand that our children will not be happy as adults unless we teach them to figure out what interests them and then to pursue those interests.
I know this first hand. When I was younger, I started writing. At age seven I was selling little stories around the neighborhood for a quarter. At ten my mom bought my first typewriter and I wrote my first novel, a mystery involving a bunch of neighborhood kids. I wrote all of the time, everyday, for years and years, and then I got to college and I was told by many people-my mom included-that if I wanted to make money I would have to do something other than writing in order to be successful. I could write on the side, they said, like other authors do.
Ah, but this was the worse advice anyone could have ever given me, because I listened. I became a teacher. I enjoyed parts of it, but it wasn’t my passion. I said I would write in the summer and at night, but I never did, and it wasn’t until I began staying home with my first daughter that my husband said to me, "If you want to write, write. And if you love it, and that’s what you want to do, and you can do it and be successful, I’m fine with that."
And so I wrote.
It is really important as parents that we separate what we want for our children and what we want for ourselves. As a working mother, I really want my children to see that I am now working and I am happy doing what I love to do. I enjoy every single day that I sit down and work. I enjoy the multitude of projects I work on. I love working with clients. I just love designing or writing and watching my creativity actually turn into something powerful and positive for someone else’s company. To me, this is the only thing that I can imagine doing for the rest of my life.
One guest on Donny’s show said that if you find yourself pushing your children into discovering a passion, they haven’t found their passion yet. Give them time.
That’s not to say that we shouldn’t expose them to a variety of things: sports, dance, acting, gymnastics, science, math. Yet if you find yourself begging your ten year old to go to piano lessons, chances are he is just not interested. At some point, we have to let go of the ideas that we hold for our children and let them follow what lies within their hearts.
And what we can only hope is that this passion of theirs will also be monetarily rewarding for them, such as Chris Rock’s was. If you can make a living doing what you love to do, that’s one of the biggest successes you can ever have.
Have a great week, working parents.