No Teen Aspirations Yet?
As moms of older kids, we sometimes get caught up in worrying about teen apathy. We start to wonder when our older kids will step up, take responsibility, and figure out what they want to do with their life.
To be perfectly honest with you, sometimes the desire for our kids to figure out their life plan—and our frustration with the fact they haven’t figured it out yet—is an entirely selfish thing. We all have this huge fear that our kids are going to experience a massive failure to launch. We imagine them running into the great beyond and, after tripping over their shoelaces, falling flat on their face.
And then what happens? (At least, what do we worry will happen?) Everyone will look at the kid who is flailing on the ground with dirt up their nose and scuffed knees – and then turn to stare at the mom.
Ermehgerd. What will the people think of the homeschooling mom if her kids become adults and can’t adult? If they have no huge aspirations to take over the world? If their life goal isn’t something that will make people stand up and take notice (or at least get their name in the local news publication)?
I mean, I can’t be the only mom with this secret, completely selfish fear.
Let me explain.
We were at the eye doctor recently, and during the exam, the doctor asked my oldest, “So what do you think you might want to do for work after you graduate?”
My son shrugged and mentioned something about searching for any job that would allow him to work the night shift because he’s not much of a morning person.
Great. Great. Your only aspiration in life is to work a job that doesn’t require you to wake up with the sun?
Gah. I’ll be here, hiding in the corner.
It’s fun to ask little kids what they want to be when they grow up because superhero and princess are totally acceptable answers. Little kids can rock an answer like that. But when you ask a teenager what their future plans are, you expect something a little more realistic. Something a little less Spiderman and a little more software developer.
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Now, there are some kids who know what they want to do with their life. Some kids know from the time they’re old enough to think about the future that they want to be a nurse or a teacher or a cop or a doctor. Or they want to fix cars or run a restaurant or sew costumes for a theater company.
But there are lots of other kids who just shrug their shoulders and mutter, “I don’t know.”
And it’s frustrating. Now, yes—sometimes they don’t know because they’re not taking the time to think about it, but more often than not, they don’t know yet because they really don’t know. They haven’t found that thing that really sticks out for them.
And so, as a mom, you wait. And. You. Wait. And you keep hoping that something will happen. Something will click. Something will inspire them to care.
And you’re hoping that this something happens before you’re forced to come up with really creative answers to counteract the raised eyebrow stares from a group of moms who are talking about their future nurse practitioners and mechanical engineers.
But here is the amazing thing, y’all. One day, it happens.
One day while you’re lost in the land of ohmywordmykidisnevergoingtofindthethinghewantstodowithhislife, it happens.
Something clicks. Something inspires them.
And the crazy thing is that the thing might be something that’s totally outside your knowledge base. It might be something you were not directly involved in bringing into their life. It might be something that you’re thinking, um, where did this come from? It might be something you didn’t see coming or never would have thought your kid would be interested in as a career.
But it will hit, and it will hit hard, and you will know by the way their eyes light up that this – this is something.
It happened most recently to my oldest. The one whose primary aspiration was to work a job that started at 11 pm.
He wants to build custom guitars.
I mean….what? What the ever lovin’ what?
Did you even know there are luthier schools?
(Did you just have to Google luthier? It means a maker of stringed instruments. Even spell check doesn’t think it’s a word.)
So now he’s in the garage with the band saw and the router and coming up with plans and designs and dreaming and imagining and all the things, you guys. Now, this kid is on fire.
It happened. He found his thing.
And looking back, you can totally put the pieces together. You can see how little bits of the puzzle finally fit. The kid who has done multiple shop projects for 4H and won champion ribbons. The kid who is really interested in graphic design but didn’t feel like graphic design was totally his calling. This kid who plays stringed instruments for hours a day – and critiques the set up and shape and contemplates how he would tweak them to make them better.
It makes perfect sense now, but you can’t see all of that from the other side. It only makes sense looking backward.
And when you see your kid figure this out, this thing where his eyes light up, and he says, “This is what I want to do”… do you know how that makes you feel as a mama?
Like the whole dang room is filled with onions. That’s what it feels like.
Provide your teens with opportunities to experience many different things, and be patient.
Have faith, mamas. It will happen.
It happens at a different time for every kid. But it happens. Provide them with opportunities to experience many different things, and be patient. You might be surprised how they will put it all together and what the package will look like when it’s done, but they will find their thing.
And it will be amazing.
Has your kid found his or her something yet? What is it?