Are Your Kids Living in Disneyland?
By Jeannette Webb
I am a firm believer in the magic of childhood. I worked extremely hard so my kids would always feel safe and secure even when I wasn’t entirely sure that we were. I presided over a delightful childhood for my two youngsters. We reclined on the trampoline at night to watch comet showers and explored the canyons of our farm by day. I continually set up new experiences inside and outside our home for them to enjoy. I loved the chance to see the world through their young eyes and experience discovery all over again.
And yet, that is only part of the story. With one hand I was protecting their childhood and encouraging them to dream. With the other I was setting up experiences to train them for the real world and put feet to their aspirations.
In that wonderful place, stories always have happy endings. Things just always turn out right. In Disneyland movies, we never witness the long and difficult road to competency or skill development that leads to happy endings.
I often see kids stuck in Disneyland. They will define themselves for me and yet I see no evidence of that in their lives. With the vivid imagination of youth, they see themselves as they hope to be one day (and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that vision). However, they are not taking steps daily to become that person. No matter what the aspiration, there are skills needed in order to fulfill it. Whether we are talking college admissions, scholarship competitions, or life in general, it is important to understand that you are not defined by your dreams, but by what you do.
A college admissions officer won’t take your child’s word that they are a writer. He will look for evidence of that. Does she consistently write for several hours a day? Is she published? Does she operate a highly successful blog with lots of followers? Has she placed herself under a mentor who will guide and direct the development of her voice? Is her college application essay something fresh and novel?
No matter what the goals of our children, by the time they reach high school there should be a plan in place to help them develop skills they need and to have real world experience with the thing they dream about. This serves several purposes.
Most kids I’ve worked with only learn about themselves through trial and error. They try on one role and realize that it just isn’t them. So they try something else until they find the right fit. This is normal and the sooner they figure it out, the better.
Having a clue what they want to do with their life makes choosing a college much easier.
This self-knowledge can also save years of their life and a great deal of your money. Most kids today change their college major at least 5 times. Every time a change is made, it adds extra semesters to the college experience. If you’ve checked out the price of college lately, you’ll know that means thousands of dollars more out of your pocket.
Kids who know who they are and what they want and are joyfully pursing that are much more successful in scholarship competitions and college admissions.