Why parents are the biggest dream killers (and why it hurts the world)

Photo by  emily reider  on  Unsplash  / Unapparenthood

Photo by emily reider on Unsplash / Unapparenthood

I feel like I'm crazy.

I think about our daughter coming into this world and what my fears are. Yeah, I want to protective and make sure she's safe. I want her to feel validated and supported.

But my biggest fear?

Is that she's going to settle for a life that she doesn't love.

That really worries me. I think about the times in my life I've settled and how hard it's been for me to find my voice. I think about the shame and the discouragement from my environment around me. I think about feeling like an outcast my entire life for wanting to do something different with my life. Something unsafe. 

Parents, I believe, instinctively push a safe agenda. I mean, it makes sense. We don't want our babies getting hurt. We are not comfortable with rejection, so of course, we don't want to put our children through it. We want to them to succeed, all the time. We don't want someone telling them they're not good enough. We want them to always win. 

And so, we nudge them to safer choices. To develop skills that are hireable. To pick a major that will get them a good job. We cannot stand to see our children fail, so we influence them into decisions that increase their chance of success.

What parents fail to realize is that by doing this we are stealing away their ability to dream. 

Look, I understand that kids need direction. At a certain point, Timmy needs to be told the hard truth that he will never be able to be a fire hydrant. Certain things do not fit into the frame of reality and actual possibility.

But, what happens when your kids' dreams surpass your frame of reality, but still exist in the reality of the world? Who are you to say what your child has the ability to become? 

I believe that in trying to protect our kids, we are doing more harm than good and sending them down a path towards dissatisfaction, despair and even hurting their chances of success.

Let me explain.

Parents have a natural tendency to teach the next generation what they know. A few generations ago, the natural order of the Western world was for the man to get a job and the wife to stay at home. The man would go work at the printing press or the governor's office and he'd make enough for the house, the 2.5 kids, the dog and the wife. 

So, of course, this is what they taught to their 2.5 kids, and these kids went on to attempt to do the same. For the most part, they succeeded. The jobs were less guaranteed, but this was balanced out by the fact that more women got into the workforce, too and they gave birth to their version of 2.5 kids: millennials. 

So, of course, these parents to millennials did their best to instill the same values. Go to school, major in something valuable and then get a good job. The problem? These parents' didn't know what the fuck they were talking about and the jobs that millennials were promised weren't there. 

It's not their fault. Nobody could have predicted how the world would shift. But, the advice millennials were given was not only dissatisfying - it was dangerous. Technology and globalization have disrupted the job market, and it isn't slowing down anytime soon.

Two generations ago, our parents were able to make a living doing a job that has now been sent overseas or to a robot. And millennials are have entered adulthood with a lack of direction and a whole bunch of bad advice.


So now what? How do we course correct the next generation to be ready for the shifting world? 

To support them in doing things that robots cannot. 

And guess what those things are? Yep. The things they love.

Here's the thing: humans are emotional creatures. Robots are not. No matter how efficient technology makes the world, we will always invest in emotion. We need it. We need to feel a connection and love and togetherness. There will always be a market for emotional connection. And what are the professions that provide that supply that demand?

Artists. Actors. Musicians. Writers. Designers. Comedians.

All of the professions we steer our children away from because they're not safe enough. The hard truth now is that these professions are the only guaranteed skillset to be in demand in our world. 

And look, I'm not entirely sure about what else will be in demand. Developers will probably be employable for the next little while, but every day it gets easier and easier to program things on our own. I have no idea how much we'll need other "normal jobs". 

But I do know we'll need dreamers. 

And my mission as a parent is not to kill the dreams of our daughter, but to protect them.

It's the only way I know she'll have a chance at success.


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If you liked this piece, you should read this one: Not Sure What You're Passionate About? Start Here.