It drives me crazy when my husband claims that he doesn’t care what our children choose to do in life “as long as it makes them happy”. Really? Exotic dancer? Mob boss? I equally hate feeding my children the line “you can be whatever you want to be” because I’ve lived long enough to know that’s just not true. We have each been blessed with different talents, and we each lack certain abilities. It doesn’t make us failures, it makes us human.
Unlike many American parents, I hope my kids are average.
Some of my best friends are those in the top echelons of the intellectual food chain. My crew includes all those cliché careers: brain surgeons, rocket scientists, and a few others whose patents have changed how we communicate in this electronic age. I have witnessed firsthand that what to some would be seen as a blessing, can also be a personal prison. Responsibility vs. passion becomes a life-long battle. Whether it’s the brain surgeon who wants to be a stay-at-home mom or the rocket scientist who wants to be the frontrunner of a heavy metal band, the “right” thing to do is a gray area. My husband votes for the personal fulfillment of being the mom and band member, while I say the brain surgeon and rocket scientist owe it to society to share their gifts.
If you haven’t seen the movie Being Elmo, I highly recommend it. It speaks specifically to this issue. The puppeteer who is Elmo has missed out on his daughter’s childhood in exchange for bringing to life one of the most beloved puppets of all time to millions of children around the world (including joy and comfort to children struggling with terminal illnesses). Did he make the right choice? His parents supported his passion but were they doing him a disservice?
As a parent, how are we expected to temper pushing our children if they show a natural ability while helping them grow and develop a satisfying personal life? How do we foster contentment?
I fear the answer is to pray that they aren’t cut out for being a brain surgeon, rocket scientist, or Elmo.