You’ve all heard it recently. The world has gone crazy. Today’s kids have it harder than we did, with bigger and badder problems, right? But kids I know seem to hold onto innocence longer, approach life more cautiously and have even taken on adult problems like being overscheduled and stressed. Am I just dreaming? Do I live in a fantasy world? What kids do I know? Yours!
I work with many children and families in my local area and have learned a lot from talking with teachers and parents alike, not to mention these couple of decades of mom-ness I own. I think I can help—or at least give some advice to answer this question: how can adults who care about kids talk to them honestly about their future?
Acknowledge both great hope and great uncertainty. No one really knows what the future holds, so we must continue to face fears and make goals and plans for the future. This does not mean a life of fear, but facing fear and adversity with courage and strength.
There is much to learn. Kids think they know it all, and they do know a lot. Adults should be realistic with kids that some kind of post-secondary training is expected for most. Talk about what your kid really loves and the host of different careers that could morph from one interest. Many successful adults have found that what they loved to “play” as children, they later discovered can earn money and make them a happy living.
Options are available. Just like everything we buy these days, there is a right fit for everyone. There will be many opportunities for making choices in life, so talk to your kid about school choices in your area, work options at different ages, and even the concept of entrepreneurship. Failure should be viewed as an opportunity to try differently or learn new ways.
We live in a global culture and economy. Talk about ways your child can fit, like where in the world they would love to go, visit, explore, live or learn about and what programs could make that happen, like student exchange or the Au Pair Program. Talk about ways your child can explore those interests right now.
None of us is the same. Talk to your kids about what makes us different and what makes us alike. Teach them to appreciate the differences even with those they may not “like” always with a focus on compromise toward mutual goals. They may just discover new friends.
A good friend once suggested I envision my life in one, five and 10 years. This is an excellent exercise to do with kids, too. Tell them your dreams, plans and goals, and how you intent to reach them. Listen to theirs. Encourage even the craziest of ideas. Let them know it is okay to adjust or change, but always dream!