Open thread

Published by Lori Pickert on June 6, 2009 at 01:32 AM

It’s the bold, not the meek, who vault higher during hard times. Fear leads nowhere; enthusiasm can lead everywhere.

People who bind themselves to what they love tend to succeed in some way, shape, or form. — Jacquelyn Mitchard, Why Passion Matters

Thank you, Ellen, for sending the link to this wonderful article!

16 comments

Comment by birgit on June 6, 2009 at 06:00 AM

in the last years i wonder if we are doing too much parenting to our children and in the last month i read blogs like http://zenhabits.net/
to get life more frugal
to go back to the roots
and i'm discussing with my neighbors to plant vegs in the garden
they don't like the idea but i wait patiently and discuss and discuss *giggle*
i love your blog and flickr site and i think you are on a very good way
i would like to have homeschooling in germany
send all my best wishes
birgit

Comment by Diana (Ladybug ... on June 6, 2009 at 03:32 PM

"The wisest parents I know are honest. They watch their children grow and steer them toward their strengths with encouragement rather than force. And sometimes these parents feel pride and fear."

I love this. This idea is actually helpful as we seek balance for our children's lives. We choose to spend more time and energy in the areas where they are passionate, rather than trying out every sport and activity under the sun just because the neighbor kids or kids in school are.

One of the most satisfying parts of parenting to me is seeing where God has gifted my children and how they develop those gifts as their own personal calling. To me, that's what the idea of vocation is all about-- I don't want my kids training for jobs in those college years that will be here before I know it, rather, I want them pursuing their vocation with a sense of purpose.

Comment by Cathy T on June 6, 2009 at 05:05 PM

I have been reading all the posts from the last couple weeks and have thought about what I'd write --- but life with little ones isn't giving me the chance to sit and be articulate. But I'm loving the reading of everyone's thoughtful comments.

Last night I had the rare opportunity to be alone with my 13 year old and we talked for about an hour about his dreams of what he'd like to do this summer. Areas he would like to explore, opportunities he'd like to take part of. It was so peaceful and rewarding, that talking. We talked about passions and trying new things and putting yourself out there in the world.

About dreaming big - the only thing I worry about is that I'd like my kids to dream big but be able to live the way they want to... Live within their means. So, if they want a lifestyle that includes lots of 5 star hotels, fancy meals, someone to wash their kitchen floor, then they may need a job that provides that kind of income. If they are happy traveling (or not) with less money to burn, happy to live in a smaller house, etc., GREAT. Unfortunately, maybe I partly think that way because they are boys, to be men, to be providers for their family? Ah, so much to think about....again!

Comment by jen on June 7, 2009 at 04:13 AM

Oh, this quote is encouraging...when I think about homeschooling my children, there is a LOT I don't have, but yes, I do have me some enthusiasm...and even better, they have a lot of enthusiasm about all there is to learn!

Comment by Kyrie on June 7, 2009 at 06:54 AM

What I came away with most out of this was to not typecast your children in the roles you've laid out for them, you know?

I was "the bookworm" and "the practical one" growing up (still am known as such in my family, actually)- in reality I am so much more than that! It was just another type of box to fit into. My mom (bless her heart for believing in me) still believes I'll be a famous author one day. A big dream, yes, but not MY big dream!

I hope I'll be able to step back one day and let my girls dream their own big dreams. I hope I'll be able to let them change their minds if they want to and create another Plan A, not a Plan B, when the first Plan A becomes something that they no longer want to pursue.

I think life is long enough and interesting enough to pursue all sorts of big dreams.

(Mine was to raise a family of my own- and here I am. I wonder what else I'll do?)

Comment by Ellen on June 7, 2009 at 12:20 PM

My sister, who has a pretty high paying job, says the two happiest days of her life are going to be menopause and retirement ... while I find that funny, that's exactly what I don't wish for my own daughter. I'd rather she make less money and enjoy what she's doing, whatever it turns out to be. I also hope that I'm allowing her childhood to be that way, not spending all her time doing what other people think she should be doing, but following her own deep interests, whether they're short-lived or life-long.

Recently, there was a great article in the New York Times, The Case for Working with Your Hands ... by a guy who got his Phd in Philosophy and started working at a think tank, only to realize his real dream was to fix motorcycles ... so he quit the think tank and did it. Bravo. In my next life, I might be a plumber ... although I really do enjoy what I do now.

Comment by Lori Pickert on June 7, 2009 at 12:28 PM

birgit, thank you! :^) i hope you get your veg!

diana, i feel that way — i don’t want my sons’ childhood to be spent preparing for their adult life, their adult job … i want them to be living as fully as they can *now*, today, exploring their interests, delighting in what delights them now.

rather than a mini-adulthood, childhood should be, in my opinion, building a foundation for adulthood … learning about life, about love, about work, about the world, about their talents and passions …

cathy, about dreaming big … i think the only way we learn is by actually doing things ourselves. if we hold children back from pursuing their dreams, we’re jumping ahead and saying “this won’t end well … let’s just avoid the heartache…”

if one of the lessons coming for them is “you will have to make a choice between five-star hotels and the work you want to do”, i’m okay with that. let them understand that choice and make it on their own.

the idea put forth in JM’s article is strongly related to project work — do we go through the material first and decide what will work, what won’t, what’s age-appropriate, what’s doable? or do we just hand them the world and say “go for it”?

jen, i really do believe enthusiasm can lead everywhere! :^)

kyrie, yes — instead of seeing potential careers in children (or ourselves), seeing bundles of potential and talent and ability and passions and interests … ingredients that could make a number of interesting lives, jobs, pursuits …

i suppose parents are afraid and want guarantees for their children … as maybe many adults are afraid and want guarantees for *themselves*, so they make life choices attempting to make sure they’ll have what they need. but life is unpredictable and so much bigger, offering so much more variety than we consider. fear holds us back from finding out what we can do, what we can have.

Comment by Lori Pickert on June 7, 2009 at 01:14 PM

ellen, that was a good article — another ccb reader sent it to me. i need to excerpt it here.

lol re: your sister’s quote — i’m *sure* she’s going for humor there. :^)

i was just saying yesterday that i absolutely loved running the school, which took an enormous amount of time and overlapped my home life extensively … but i am just as happy now, if not more so. i think the key is enjoying each phase of life — just as we were discussing on the previous post how we should enjoy each age!

Comment by Amy on June 7, 2009 at 11:06 PM

I love this article!! Why not dream big? I miss that from childhood, the quality of dreaming big. I wonder if 35 is too late to get it back? But I think it's a fine line, too, between encouraging the big dreams and locking children into them. Now, while my boys are running through all the jobs they are going to have when they grow up (fireman, police man, "cooker," the next Dr. Ballard, and on and on) I am careful not to latch onto any particular one--they are trying on different hats, and it's not my job to predict which hat ought to stick.

When I was 5 I wanted to be an artist and a writer. My parents were not discouraging, although they weren't particularly encouraging as far as opportunities, either. "Everyone" took dance, so I was signed up for dance, but no one thought to provide art opportunities, for instance. My father would encourage me to write, convinced I would write a great novel "someday." He still says this. In a classic Alfie Kohn reaction to that sort of praise, I found his expectations kind of crippling. And now I just want to say, "You know what, Dad? I don't find novel writing FUN!" I wonder whose dream that was--mine to write a novel, or his to have a daughter who wrote a novel.

It's a very fine line, is all I'm saying.

Now. Whilst attached to a sleeping baby, I have some dreaming to do. :)

Comment by Jen R. (aaron-n... on June 8, 2009 at 01:31 PM

I enjoyed reading that article - thanks for linking it!

Comment by Lori Pickert on June 8, 2009 at 02:24 PM

amy, i love this article, too. why *not* dream big?! why put the kibosh on our kids’ dreams? i would rather strive and fail and feel i failed at something important and big and meaningful to me than settle. (and i have! :^)

i think it’s the dreaming and wide-open attitude toward life that is important, not the eventual success/failure, which is what most people focus on — especially parents who are trying to get their kids to forget their dreams.

after all, if the journey is the important part and not the destination — and we spend way more time on the journey — shouldn’t it be about the things that matter most to you? in the end, does it matter if you win an academy award? or lived your most authentic life?

i love your point about not getting too enamored of a choice your child makes — it would be so easy to do, and maybe it’s even unavoidable to some degree. (can we hide our obvious enthusiasm?) but children can so easily be swayed by wanting to please a parent, and we want them to follow their own true path. i agree, it’s a very fine line.

and i agree re: keeping and encouraging our own dreams — i think it’s the best possible way to encourage our children to follow their own — teaching by example, a life pursuing what you care about the most deeply.

Comment by Cathy T on June 8, 2009 at 06:41 PM

I want my children to dream big and I do support them (I hope!). I just want them to think about why they are making the choices they are making and if the choice is limiting in any way - for either now or for later. I'm all for living your dream out and trying new things.

This weekend I have been reading Georgia Heard's book Awakening the Heart. In it she writes that her grandmother, when told by Georgia that she wanted to become a poet, said she would pay for her college if she became a cartographer instead. Georgia said no. Several times before her grandmother died she told Georgia how sorry she was for not believing in her but she was afraid she wouldn't make a living. She also told her granddaughter how proud she was of her. A good example of believing in yourself and your children!

Comment by Ce on June 9, 2009 at 02:10 AM

Wow. There is so much to digest here on your site. I love it!

These quotations really resonate with me, as our family is getting ready to embark on some new adventures. I pretty much equate "new" with "scary." I have spent most of my life playing it safe, and downsizing my dreams. But I think you eventually reach a point when you have to decide if you're going to live boldly or let the fear hold you back. I don't want to just sit back and tell my children to dream big while I'm doing just the opposite, you know? That's not the example I wish to set for them. I certainly can't preach the importance of living authentically, if I've given up on that goal myself.

So, while it is a great leap out of my comfort zone, we are in the midst of turning our lives upside down in hopes of achieving something better for our family. I think I will write those quotes down and refer to that linked article often -- can't let the fear win!

Comment by Lori Pickert on June 10, 2009 at 01:48 AM

cathy, i think that grandmother had the more usual attitude — have a fall-back plan, expect the worst, be prepared, etc.

re: choices being limiting, i think it’s hard to hedge your bets. living your life is like crossing a stream by hopping from stone to stone — you have to keep moving forward to see your next selection of choices!

ce, thank you! i don’t think you *can* tell your children one thing and do the opposite. i think they always see through that. good luck on your new adventure!

Comment by julia on June 16, 2009 at 01:35 PM

that's a beautiful article. And it's something I learned the hard way: Plan A is what we should go for. I'm in the process of letting go of a plan B that has made me very unhappy, and might have cost me a good relationship. So in the end, plan B was maybe safer, but very hurtful.

Comment by Lori Pickert on June 17, 2009 at 01:16 AM

and it’s only one type of safety — usually the financial type, sometimes the protecting-myself type. but we’re putting other things in extreme peril — our sense of self, our very particular talents and desires, what we have to give…

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