Raising Confident Dreamers

“Mom, I have three different things I could do when I grow up, and I don’t how to decide.”

I suppressed a smile at the earnest concern in her voice. Genuine worry laced her eight year old face, and I pulled her close to me on the couch. This is the child who hates to make decisions. She’s so fearful of making the wrong decision that even breakfast can turn into an ordeal of tears if not handled with grace and patience.

“Well,” I said gently, “what are your options?”

“I want to be a gymnast’s coach, a soccer coach, or a doctor. But I also want to be a mom. How will I decide what to do?

My first born ambled up at that point. He’s trapped in that phase right now between boy and man. He’s long and sinewy, all knees and elbows. He still dreams like a child, but I see the practicality creeping in.

“I’m going to be a missionary,” he says. “I want to help people who don’t have anything. Or…” he pauses, conflicted. “Well, I kind of want to be a professional golfer, too.”

They both look at me then, as though I will have all the answers to these life decisions that seem so important right now. Before the youthful freckles have faded, and the white blonde strands of hair darken into a more mature golden, they want to know the future. They want me to tell them what to do.

Because isn’t that my job?

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I am a dreamer by nature. When I was eight, I wanted to be a famous movie star. I envisioned accepting my Oscar, and by the time I was 12, I had my acceptance speech crafted to near perfection.

At 15, I left the boundaries of my own country for the first time, and my eyes were torn open at the sight of Belorussian children singing and dancing in an orphanage in Minsk, Belarus. My life focus shifted, and continued to shift through high school, throughout college (and the four different majors I declared), into marriage, and again when I had children.

As practicality and maturity set in, my dreams shifted, but I never stopped dreaming. I never assumed that my life would stop at motherhood. That became just a part of the dream.

My parents never allowed me to set boundaries on my aspirations. They encouraged travel, they pushed me into new experiences, and they never laughed at any of my lofty goals, even when they knew my dreams were outside the bounds of reason. They listened as I spoke of opening an orphanage in Russia, of writing ten best selling books before I turned 30, and of somehow still getting that ever elusive Oscar.

They didn’t squelch a single dream. They simply gave me space to figure out which ones were really worth pursuing.

This is how you raise a confident dreamer.

As I looked into my children’s eyes, I knew they didn’t really need the answers, because the truth is, I don’t know the outcome of their futures any more than they do. Their story is still being written, and I have the awesome privilege as their mother of watching it play out.I get to nurture and guide them in their gifts and talents. In fact, I  see the gifts that they don’t even recognize in themselves yet.

My daughter blinked up at me, her big eyes imploring me to tell her which profession to choose. I gave her a hug, and cupped her face in my hands. “You don’t have to know the answer right now,” I told her with a smile. “Your only job as you grow up is to dream. Dream of the big things and the little things, and don’t be afraid of your dreams. Chase them. I will be right behind you cheering you on, praying for you, and pushing you toward the best possible path.”

Someday they will be grown, and they will be on their own. They will have to navigate the path before them, and my prayer is that they will see and understand the natural gifts and bents that the Lord has blessed each of them with. Until that time, though, my job as mom is to simply give them the freedom to dream. There are no boundaries in dreams.

That’s what makes them so fun.

What about you? What are you doing to raise confident dreamers in your home?

  • http://www.5minutesformom.com/ Susan (5 Minutes For Mom)

    I love this post so much! My 6 and 9 year old girls often talk about what they may want to do when they grow up… I too want them to dream big and chase hard.

  • Kim Court

    Great post! My 10 yo daughter often has this “anxiety” of trying to decide what she wants to be when she grows up, too. Hairstylist, professional dancer, marine biologist, first woman President.. :)
    I love how you say that there are no boundaries on dreams – and bravo to your parents for never allowing YOU to put boundaries on your dreams. Great advice for any parent.

  • http://www.kellistuart.com/ Kelli

    Yes! The chasing hard is so important isn’t it?

  • http://www.kellistuart.com/ Kelli

    Thanks, Kim! I think one of the greatest joys in parenting is to remember what it was like to dream without boundaries, completely unencumbered by the confines of responsibility. I love watching that in my kids. :)