Envisioning Our Children’s Futures
Throughout history, the majority of children grew up to do whatever their parents did. If your dad was a farmer, odds were that you became one, yourself. In many parts of the world, this is still the case.
Naturally, there are many factors making this the smoothest and most obvious path for a young person. Social constraints could make rising to a higher level difficult or impossible. Being provided with the equipment you needed to set up your own business makes continuing in the same line far easier. Even for those who are apprenticed to work with someone of a different trade, they had their path chosen for them at a young age by their parents or guardians.
Today, we have an extraordinary opportunity to truly open our children’s minds to a wealth of possibilities for developing skills we’ve never explored ourselves.
As I pointed out a few months ago, many of my children are gifted in areas that are quite different from my own. They could thrive in situations that would be torture for me. How do I, as a parent, open their minds to arenas of study and skill that are foreign to my own experience?
With a little planning, this doesn’t have to be too hard!
Since I’m a bookworm, I usually start with books. Richard Scarry is a longtime favorite of my family. He has whole books on What Do People Do All Day? and other titles that picture what life is like far away or in widely diverse careers. If you look around your library, you are likely to find all kinds of stories about other cultures, focusing on things we seldom experience.
Biographies can be amazing resources to pull you into a new world of possibilities. For over a hundred years, people have been inspired to become missionaries after reading about the lives of those who have gone before. I may not be excited about the possibility of one of my children moving thousands of miles away from me to a place riddled with danger and disease, but if that is where God wants them to go, that’s His business!
For more common situations, we can both look at the penchants our children already have, and opportunities in our local area. My family just had a few of our bicycles repaired at a store down the street. Looking at the walls and ceiling, covered with tools and parts, I knew this was a place for two of my sons to consider working at. Bicycle repair isn’t something I would have ever dreamed of, but knowing my children, I spotted an opportunity that matches their gifting.
Wherever you live, there are likely to be industries or businesses that can open your children’s eyes to fresh possibilities. Some places already work with schools to give tours; others can be contacted to see if they would be willing to show your family around.
I haven’t been able to visit places like this much yet, because of the constant stream of little ones into our family, but we did get to look at the production studio for Answers in Genesis awhile back. We got to see not only the cubicles of the computer designers and writers, but also the brainstorming room and, most amazing of all, the room where they sculpt and paint the pieces destined for the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum. I was terrified my little ones would knock something over, but nothing disastrous happened, and my children now have a better understanding of the vast array of skills a major production like that requires.
When I was a teenager, we lived near the headquarters of our homeschool curriculum. For two years, my brother and I would go, each week, to volunteer in their warehouse and got to see all kinds of things it takes to assemble materials and prepare them for shipment. We were both learning and being a blessing to people who were blessing us. I know that having met so many of the people who wrote things that impacted me helped me in being willing to try my hand at writing, myself.
Don’t forget to include what your family is already skilled at doing. There is a huge blessing in having a close relationship with the person who is training you. Not only can there be joy in the work, but there will also be that added dimension of love, and the personality of the teacher, in whatever you accomplish.
We are right not to push our children into becoming clones of ourselves, but if what we already know is something they enjoy, we can give them a huge leg up in excelling at whatever craft we know. I have a daughter who is a natural-born storyteller – far better than I am. So, I’m taking the skills I’ve developed in producing a podcast and composing a satisfying story and am training her to present her own version of storytelling to the world. It’s going to be a lot less intimidating for her to get into iTunes, because her mom has already done it, than if this were a totally unknown thing.
As with all areas of parenting, this is a subject to present before God and to work through as parents. What does Jesus want our child to be exposed to (All the stories I’ve ever heard tell me God never wastes skill and experience, even if it’s in a totally unexpected sphere)? What opportunities to picture potential directions are in our present environment? Are there any places we can plan into our vacations that can open our children’s eyes to the vast array of human effort?
I have no doubt that, if we ask God for wisdom in this area, He will guide us and our children into opportunities we would never have dreamed of considering on our own!
Cheri Fields is a 2nd generation homeschooler involved in learning and teaching at home since 1982. She currently teaches her seven kids in Michigan and has found ways to include them in the online ministry God has called her to, particularly as cohosts for their family’s podcast. You can find her at https://creationscience4kids.com. She is a member of the International Association of Creation and a graduate of the Institute for Children’s Literature.