You’ve heard the classic line on numerous movies and TV shows, where to parent says to the kid ‘You can be whatever you want to be – you can achieve whatever you want to achieve’ – but are we setting our kids up for a fall? Will all these hopes and dreams make it harder if they crash and burn?
Let’s take a trip back to 1986. I was in Year 1 at a small country school. I can’t tell you my friend’s names, I can’t tell you what the classroom looked like, I can’t tell you what I learned… but I can tell you the day a mother brought in a bag of material remnants. I don’t know why but I was completely drawn to this bag of scraps. Oh, the things I could make! I had my sights set on an apron with frills and ties and buttons and lace. No pattern, no idea, but I was going to make this apron.
Fast forward to 1990. Having earned a reputation as a fabric lover another family friend had a clean out of her craft cupboard and I was the lucky recipient of those awesome 80s fluoro, spots and stripes materials. This was the era of the scrunchie, and I can remember feeling disgusted by local shops charging $5 for them when – hello – you can make these with a scrap, elastic, needle and thread!! I was in full production and my sister and friends were the lucky beneficiaries of my efforts.
And so it continued into my teen years. Barbie outfits for my sister (no pattern required – though it did take me a few practices to understand seam allowance), stuffed toys and dolls as baby gifts, pyjamas for myself and many more imperfect but worthy achievements that I had loved making.
In all this my Mum would do her best to keep a straight face. She always acknowledged my efforts and encouraged me to make more, but I know now she must have been laughing at my lop-sided Barbie dresses and my limp and flat teddies.
But in all this she NEVER squashed my passion and love for sewing and crafting. And because of this I kept thinking I could go on to do bigger and better things.
And I did.
You see, even if I was a complete and utter failure, even if my creations were ugly and useless and falling apart, I knew that Mum admired my persistence and encouraged me to keep going. And this, is more valuable than actually failing at something.
So NO, we are not setting our kids up for a failure. Even if they want to be a ballerina and they have two left feet. Even if they want to be a rocket scientist and they get D’s on their report card. Even if they dream of playing professional footy and they can’t kick a ball straight. Support their dreams and let them know that you believe that anything is possible.
And if completely lost for words, repeat the saying “That’s a GRAND ambition!” Then zip your lips and let them get on with their dreams.