A year ago my oldest daughter and I spent about twenty hours helping out at a gymnastics meet. Yes, you’re reading that right. Twenty hours.
The competing girls were all levels 3 & 4s. For many of them it was their first state competition. And their dreams were coming true. This weekend our 11 year old competed in his first gymnastics meet. It wasn’t necessarily a dream, but he’d worked hard and liked it so much he wants to do more.
Kids are like that. The kids above are my two oldest several years ago looking through binoculars on Mackinac Island. Kids have the biggest dreams. And as a parent I want to know how to focus in on the one that will lead to success and fulfillment. So what’s a parent to do?
1) Pray with our child about their dreams. Help them turn those dreams over to the one who created them and their dreams. Then I think we need to pray for wisdom to work with God to support those dreams to the best of our ability. For example, my oldest son want to be a Lego engineer. I don’t know how many of those there are in the world, but he loves Legos. Why not encourage him until he grows up more and decides on something else. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to find him working as an engineer of some sort.
2) Evaluate practical ways to encourage the dream. Is there a class they need to take? A sport they should try? Do they need to stick with something they decide isn’t them through their commitment? My eleven and eight year old are in a children’s choir right now. It’s hitting that point of the school year that the fun has worn off. The songs are boring. They aren’t learning anything (from their perspective) etc. Doesn’t matter. To me, learning you have to finish what you start is as important as the singing.
3) Ask God to show you what He’s working out in them through the dream and the experiences that dream generates. There are days I want to beg our oldest to give-up on her dream. It’s painful to watch her struggle. But the days she lights up because she’s learned a new skill or conquered a skill that eluded her are wonderful. I’ve asked God to show me if we reach a point where she needs to be redirected. Instead, He keeps showing me all the character she is developing.
4) Don’t be afraid to let your kids fall as they chase their dream. Often it’s in the falling and challenges that they learn the skills they’ll need in life to thrive. Now several years down the road of chasing her gymnastics dreams, our oldest has pushed through a sub-located knee, falls galore, and disappointment. She’s gone to the gym when she didn’t feel like it. But by not giving up on her dream, this spring she won the Floor Exercise gold at the State meet. What could your child achieve if they pushed through the hard days as they chased a dream?
5) Let them watch you chase your dreams. Just click on my dreams page to see all the ways God has stretched me! There is such value in the kids watching me work hard and make sacrifices to chase my dreams. Also don’t forget to dream as a family.
I generally follow these principles with my children, and they seem to help them chase their dreams.
What tips would you add to these?