Thursday, 13 March 2014

Lesson #6: Finding our children's gifts and talents

In last week's post on Passion vs Family, I mentioned how a lot of people have to give up their passions and settle for a 'proper job' to feed their family, and how ideally, we could have the best of both worlds where our passions can generate sufficient income.

Looking forward for the future of my 6 children, I think one of the most important things for me to do is to help them along in identifying their interests and talents early so that we can let it blossom. Because if in their primary and secondary days, all we do is focus on their academic studies, before we know it, they would have reached Secondary 4 where they would have to make a decision as to the next course of action.

Today I went for the post-secondary education talk in #1's school. The HOD was explaining to us all the different pathways open for the students after their 'O' levels. #1 will be taking her exams in a few month's time and she still doesn't know what she wants to do in future or what she wants to study. These days, the polytechnic route is just as attractive as the junior college path and some top scorers even opt to enrol in poly instead of doing the 'A' levels, and they continue with their undergraduate course after graduating from poly. Throw in the relatively new IB (International Baccalaureate) route into the mix and it is now a case of having too many options open to our youths. The question then becomes even more pressing. Where do they want to end up finally and which route should they take? If we do not know where the end point is, it is very difficult to decide which course or which subjects to take. 

It is the classic case we see happening all around us. After getting our degrees we start exploring several jobs to find our feet. Great if we discover that we love our jobs. However, for a lot of people, by the time they figure out that they don't like the jobs they are in, (or worse, that they don't even want to work in the area of their study) they will be in their 30s and starting their families. They will be stuck just like many people in our generation are finding themselves in. And if at that juncture, they quit their jobs and start a business in something they believe in, there is so much at stake financially, and it gets very stressful. (We have been there, done that. Start ups are no walk in the park and I've read that 9 in 10 businesses fail within the first 3 years). Many others are now going for their 'second career' in more meaningful jobs such as teaching or health care. Why is that so? They have not found meaning in their previous jobs and their passions have not been ignited. 

I eschew the conventional thinking of just letting them get a 'safe' degree so that they are guaranteed a job in future. Because if they are not happy in what they are doing, they may follow along to please us as parents, but somewhere down the line, when they are 30 or 40, they will have had enough and will leave whatever profession we have forced upon them, in a bid to do something they really enjoy. I truly believe that each and every one of us, and our children, are born with unique gifts and talents and if we use our gifts to the fullest, we will find much fulfilment and happiness in our careers and our lives.

So I have concluded that the only way to try and prevent that dismal scenario from happening to my kids, is to think a few steps ahead. I shall step up my efforts in endeavouring to discover their talents and gifts which are uniquely theirs and to guide them along in exploring ways to nurture their talents and see where it leads them. This will enable them to have ample time to dabble in different areas, learn from their mistakes and find their feet while time is still on their side.

I just met an old schoolmate today at the talk in #1's school. We are not yet 40 and she is already the Principal of my daughter's school! Wow. It really drove home the message that if we know what we love to do very early on, and what career we want to get into, we can focus on it and go very far in that area, instead of wasting many years figuring out what we want to do.
T A L E N T S
As the saying goes, if you love what you do, you will never have to work a day in your life. My wish for the 6 of them is that they will always love what they do and to never have to give up on their passions.




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~ www.mummyweeblog - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

2 comments:

  1. I went through the poly route voluntarily, at a time when many around me balked at the idea. I can't say that at the time I knew exactly what I wanted to do / be but it seemed attractive enough for me to take the leap, and thankfully I excelled through the course and went on to further my studies.

    I think it can be tough to know exactly what you want at such an early age. It's good to know which are your areas of interest (heart), and match this with your personality and strengths. Also research and gather feedback from the people who really know you. Even if it does turn out that you want to make a switch at the end of say 5-10 years of doing something, it may not necessarily be such a bad thing? Maybe sometimes we have to fail, and meander, before finding the "best" place to be in. Just my two cents worth... :)

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    1. Thanks for sharing, June! Yes, I agree it's fine if we fail and meander before finding what we really want to do. But the situation I saw around me after my 'A' levels, when a majority didn't know which course to choose at Uni and ended up just choosing something general and safe, or some being forced by parents regardless of their interests, and only a handful of us knowing exactly what we wanted to study didn't seem like an ideal situation. Because we get this 1 chance at a degree (usually) and it costs money and time. So I was just thinking what we could do to help our kids narrow down the course they want to do at Uni or Poly. And as you mentioned, Thankfully, you excelled. But I know of many other friends who didn't like their course mid-way or didn't excel. That's a sad waste of money and time.

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