Finding Your Child's Passion
How do you help your child find their passion?
Besides being a constant source of support for them, I’d say it’s all about letting your child tell you what excites and delights them.
When Claire was young I started her in all types of park district activities. Over the years I signed her up for crafting classes, science classes, ballet classes, pottery and painting classes, softball, soccer and a few others I can’t remember. Her dad bought a horse and was hoping she would also share his passion for riding. Nope. Nothing clicked with her.
To her credit she tried whatever activity I signed her up for, but she was rarely excited about it and frequently lost interest. I was hoping she would find something she loved doing and would stick with it. I wanted to help her find her passion.
She finally settled on playing soccer. Personally, I think she only did it so I’d shut up and stop pushing her. She was terrible at it and often complained about going to practices and games. There was always an excuse…too hot, too cold, she didn’t feel well, too tired, etc.
It was agonizing to watch her at games because she would rather socialize with her team mates on the sidelines than actually play the game. When she did get on the field, she just danced around the ball never actually making contact with it.
She hates running. She mainly played defense to get out of running. She had an epiphany one day when she realized the goalie just stands there the entire game. This was much more appealing. She’s a tough girl and tall so she was good at goalie and thought taking the occasional hit to the head with a soccer ball was much better than running.
Unfortunately, (or fortunately) she broke her finger during warm up for the first game of the season in 6th grade. She played the entire game (she’s my tough girl) not knowing it was broken but after a few hours it had doubled in size. She was out for the season. She was luke-warm about soccer anyway and the days of me pushing her to find her passion were over. I hated driving her to practices and games anyway so neither of us were crushed about it.
Then at the end of 5th grade (2012) she came to me and said, “Mom, I want to play an instrument”. I was totally against it. I figured this would just be another thing I would spend tons of money on and tons of time driving her to and from, and she would just end up being unmotivated and eventually quit. Instruments are way more expensive than soccer balls.
She kept pressing; I kept resisting. Where was my guarantee she would stick with it? She had never taken to anything in the past, why would this be different?
Playing an instrument is serious stuff. Making a sound come out of an object? Not just any sound, a good sound, while reading music and keeping tempo. Way harder than soccer, in my opinion.
She (and her father) wore me down and I cautiously agreed.
She chose the alto saxophone and much to my surprise, she LOVED it! She took to it immediately and was teaching herself music in the first few months. I was shocked! Still secretly waiting for the day when she would put it down and never picked it up again, I just nodded and said, “that’s great honey”.
That day never came. I was so totally wrong! The saxophone consumes her. If she couldn’t play her saxophone anymore she would die. Well, (eye roll) I’m being overly dramatic but you get the idea. I struggle to put into words exactly how much this child loves playing this instrument.
Marching band was the clincher. Once she joined marching band during the summer before freshman year (2014), that was it. She was hooked for good.
I am so happy she found something she loves and she found it on her own. When your child finds something they love, they’ll know it, and then you’ll know it.
For five solid years band has been her world. She loves everything about band; the teachers, the students, the atmosphere, the camaraderie, the travel, the competitions, the uniforms, the performances, and everything in between.
I am so happy she found something to fill her soul with such joy, and sometimes conflict. She’s a musician and never thinks she’s good enough. As I always tell her, “once you feel you’re good enough that’s when you’ll lose interest”.
Playing the saxophone challenges her in a way that excites and delights her. That is a true passion.
This year she was given the honor of “section leader” for the saxophones in marching band and I couldn’t be more happy for her. She wanted it, she went for it, and she got it.
My take-away is that when she was young, I chose the activity, for her, hoping she would find her passion. I realize now that although it was good she stayed active and continued to learn about different things, ultimately she needed to find her passion on her own.
All I have to do now is support her. Watching her have a blast, fills me with such incredible joy.
That’s my reward!
Has your child found their passion? Tells us about it.