Why Don’t Kids Get To Try Their Options Before They Zero In On One, Asks This Mom

As parents, we tend to think a lot. There are plenty of options in front of us and to know exactly what we need is indeed a luxury for most parents. I say this because we tend to veer towards the various options that seem to dictate what we must do. From advertisements, to what the school expects us as parents and our children as students to be, and what the world in large expects out of their GenNext, we are all clouded under peer pressure- both children and parents.

When results are out for the 10th and 12th standard exams, the front page of our newspapers is loaded with stories about the high achievers. But what happens next? Influenced by all of this, we, as parents tend to come down a bit harder on our children, and on ourselves as well. We all want what is best for our children, but most often this happens at the price of the happy feeling of the child. The child is bogged down by the pressure and expectations so much that it becomes a place of fear for them. In the lure of success in academics, all the extra activities that the child would want to pursue goes off the list (barring music and sports in some cases).

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Turning passion into a profession:

What about children who want to blog, learn electronic music production, learn to sew and design, learn the turntables, photography, pursue DIY or anything that is out of the box? We would probably tell them to pick these skills after they have finished schooling. And that's where we brand some kids as being "clearheaded" when they know what exactly they want.

Let's accept the fact that when children are pretty young when they are made to choose their career options. Why are there no options available for them to try first before we let them head out into the world to conquer it? The trend of summer schools has been set with this precedent in mind, to let the children get the feel of the subject and also to get the feel of the university and get a taste of living independently. We let our children try out sports, engineering through robotics, different western classical dance and music forms, etc. We even let them try out a couple of musical instruments before they settle on a particular one, similar to sports. But when it comes to options other than the mainstream, we seem to lose our patience.

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It all started when...

My 13 year old told me she wanted to start blogging. We are one month away from our unit exams and she wanted to start a blog! About what? The various social media phobias came rushing to my mind! She is an artistically inclined child, with a keen interest in fashion, art and design, agreed. I have myself struggled with the truth of academics vs pursual of different hobbies and set aside time to pursue them. And boy! Has it been a battle! All guns have been pulled out, to let her know that academics come first. After a while, I gave up! And it got me thinking.

I am a person who is active on social media. I write about things close to my heart on KSP, my husband and I are photographers and we use our Instagram account to do the talking for us, I am a crafter/ hobbyist and I regularly put out my work on a separate crafting account and I have recently started collaborating with other bloggers. Why then do I want to keep my kids out of this? I 've discussed with my friends about how small businesses benefit from social media and my kids are well aware of this too! As parents, we decided to change the approach.

Dare to try:

We decided to embrace this inquisitiveness of letting both of them try out different things, Maybe it will help them to understand, balance, and teach them how to use social media to put their talents out there and teach them the pros and cons of it both, we thought. Having creatively inclined children would need a lot of “out of the box” thinking and adapting to the changing times. While most countries run mentor programs for children as young as 12 in Art and Design, and Fashion and many other fields, India has a lot of catching up to do. But the least we can do as parents is to stop challenging the curiosity and start embracing it and teaching them, not letting them figure it out on their own, but being the guiding light, so we can teach them right from wrong, armour them with the dos and don'ts and be there for them if they falter.

Most importantly let's give them the luxury of making decisions at a young age, and an opportunity to try their hand out at different creative fields so that when they do make a career option they are clear in thoughts and more confident of their choices.  As Sir Ken Robinson once said, “Creativity is now as important in education as literacy ”.

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