Should You Help Your Kids Find Their Passions?

Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers: The Story of Success, (aff link) says it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master a skill, to become highly successful or to become the expert.

This theory doesn’t discard prodigies. It simply points out the common truth I teach my daughters: “practice makes progress“. The more you do it, the better you get at it.

Should You Help Your Kids Find Their Passions?

As moms, we have the first say in what our children do, where they go, who they spend time with… and it’s wonderful to take advantage of this opportunity to guide them.  

As our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man would say: with great power comes great responsibility.”

As God’s creation, our children were born with unique talents, gifts, abilities, and creative genius, and as moms, it is our responsibility to help them reach their potential. There are 3 steps I believe can help you on this daunting task:

  1. Be your child’s number one fan
  2. Identify your child’s passions, talents, and gifts
  3. Find a way to nurture your child’s gifts and allow them to spend time developing them

To dive into step one, let me ask you a question:

Have you ever heard of Pablo Picasso?

I think everyone knows who Pablo Picasso: immense fortune, outrageous fame…one of the most brilliant artist of all times and definitely of the 20th century.  I bring him up because he once said this about where his expertise came from:

My mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier you’ll be a general; if you become a monk you’ll end up as the pope.’ Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.”

By the sounds of this quote, Picasso also knew who HE was way before anyone ever heard of him. He was destined for greatness, prominence, and success – regardless of what he did or how he did it. 

I became a painter and wound up as Picasso ~ The Positive MOM

Picasso’s mother was his number one fan and he believed her! Our children believe what we tell them (and what we tell others) about who they are.

What I love most about this quote is that Picasso’s mother didn’t tell him what he SHOULD BE, she told him what he COULD BE

Don't tell a child what she should be, tell her what she could be! ~ Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM

My dad always believed in me and gave me freedom to follow my dreams. Even though I heard conflicting messages about who I was, his encouraging words helped me believe I could be more, have more, and do more.

He taught me that we don’t need a lot of time, a lot of money, or the best resources to raise successful children. This conviction was so important for me as a struggling single mom, because though I felt helpless in many areas, I knew my support, belief, and words of encouragement would make a difference in my kids’ lives, just as my dad has impacted my life.

Another way we can help our children become their best selves and fulfill their purpose is by helping them identify their passion or passions. So…

should you help your kids find their passions?

It can be tempting to impose your passions onto your children, to want to see them realize your very own childhood dreams, but this is a disservice to both you and your child.

It can also be tempting to fall into the trap of competitive parenting, bending over and backwards to make sure your child excels at whatever it is you think they are passionate about. Pressure chokes the joy out of any activity, and the passion can soon turn into dread, and even trauma for our children, and can make us miserable and overwhelmed as a parent. The magic of childhood can easily dissipate trying to squeeze in 10,000 hours of practice like there is no tomorrow! 

I know that childhood is a great time to explore interests, I’m not of the opinion that we must expose our children to everything so they can figure out what they are passionate about. I expose my daughters to what they really want to be exposed to.

It is not my job to decide that my girls will be chess champions, violin prodigies, or soccer super stars. It is also not my place to decide what they will be “when they grow up.”

Instead of pointing your child toward a specific area of “passion,” and attempting to make your child’s life revolve around that passion, take the time to observing your child, ask questions, and listen intently, without judgement, providing your child a safe space to answer.

“You really seem to enjoy music. Tell me more about that.”

“You spend a lot of time reading. What do you enjoy about it?”

“Your face lights up when you take photos. Do you think this might be something you want to do more?

I want my daughters to know I’m interested in who they are right now, and in their present happiness, and that I trust that they will be great at whatever they decide to do later.

My daughters are multi-passionate like their mama. Expecting them to narrow it down to their one true calling, their thing, what they are meant to do or be in life would be insane, because a child’s passion can shift and change as they grow.

I remember Elisha and Elyssa used to love ballet. Many little girls want to be ballerinas, and these sweet girls weren’t the exception. They learned a lot, practiced a lot, and were eventually selected to be part of a prestigious production of The Nutcracker, which was an outstanding experience, and very rewarding. But they decided that was it, they were done, it was too much. And that was fine. Any more ballet would have been suffocating, so I wasn’t going to push the 10,000 hours. Passion cannot be forced. 

As their mom, their guide, their friend, my job is to encourage self-discovery, to allow the wonder of curiosity, to provide freedom to explore. 

I always say:

Give your children guidance, encourage them to dream, and don’t forget to give them wings!

Nurturing our kids’ passions can be scary. Our first instinct is to protect our babies (no matter how much they grow), and it can be a struggle to start such journey. 

I remember how afraid I was when Elisha wanted to be a contestant in a beauty pageant. That meant I had to go shopping, which I simply do not enjoy. It also meant having to explain myself about why she would only wear modest clothing, about how she wouldn’t wear make up, and other uncomfortable conversations for me. Then there was the fear of what it would lead to, what her experience would be like, and whether she would be crushed with the outcome. 

I had to stop thinking about myself and think about her, her desire. She really wanted to do it, and she did fabulously. It increased her self-esteem and helped us bond. It ended up being very fun and turned out to be a one-time-deal anyway. I’m glad I supported her and made my decision out of love and not out of fear.

Elyssa made a video to tell parents why supporting our children is important, and it makes me tear up each time I see it. I wouldn’t want to live with the regret to know I hindered who my children could become. 

I know it may be hard to set aside a budget for musical instruments, art lessons, sports gear, the photography equipment, or whatever it is that will be necessary, especially when you don’t really know whether they will quit tomorrow or make it their life’s work…

But take it from Picasso… he pursued his passion, spent time perfecting his techniques (probably well more than 10,000 hours), exploring many of them, all because he was allowed to, but most importantly, because he was encouraged to believed he could.

Do you help your kids find their passions? I don’t know what mine will become, but I know for sure I am encouraging them to become something that makes them happy and fulfilled, and that they for sure are passionate about so the 10,000 will feel like a few days because they can’t get enough! What are your thoughts?

Elayna Fernandez - Author - 
Speaker - Success Guide to Moms and Mompreneurs
© Elayna Fernández ~ The Positive MOM

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23 thoughts on “Should You Help Your Kids Find Their Passions?

  1. Hi Elayna, It feels like you are in my head. When my husband and I moved to a small town to raise and home-school our children, I encountered naysayers everywhere I turned…most believed that my boys would grow up to be socially maladjusted. But it was what they needed, and now years later, they are happy, wonderful young adults, secure in the knowledge that they can be whatever they want to be. Thank you for the encouragement!

  2. I think it’s hard not to influence them in some way. Hopefully it’s in a good way and their passions become mine.

  3. I’m with you, I encourage my kids, but I let them decide what they want to do. My parents forced me to do some things, and I hated how it made me feel so I vowed never to do it to my kids.

  4. It’s always nice to support our kids with whatever it is that they choose to do. I think it’s important that we help them find their passion in life as well. After all, they rely on us for support and that’s the best that we can give them.

  5. My parents were always great at supporting my interests and it’s largely thanks to them that I’m still pursuing my passions today. Even though I’m an adult now, knowing that they have my back is what’s given me courage to pursue a creative career path.

  6. Good advice to expose your children to what activities they want to be exposed to. It’s no fun for anyone when a child is forced to participate in something they clearly don’t enjoy.

  7. Absolutely! I think it’s important to guide – not direct!

    The key is for kids to be themselves and not necessarily who we WERE NOT!

  8. It can be hard not to push your passions on your children and let them find their own, but it is so important. Making them be someone they are not is bad for everyone involved.

  9. The moment I read the post’s title, my answer is YES, OF COURSE. Being successful is not just the traditional courses and careers we see in offices, it is also all about the God’s given talent our kids have.

  10. Great post! BEing there to help your kids find what they’re passionate about is so important. My parents always have been and it’s a true blessing!

  11. This is a great reminder for me, because I had that mindset of getting my kids into stuff to get them to like it. Now I pay more attention to the things they show interest in and do my part to allow them to follow that instead of just imposing the things I think will be good for them. Thank you for writing this post!

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