There seems to be a huge push these days for kids to "find their passion. To find that one sport or activity that they pour their heart and soul into with an all-encompassing enthusiasm to the exclusion of all others. This can be anything from art, to football, to cheerleading, gymnastics, dance, baseball or hockey... the list could go on and on.
We feel pressure, as parents to search for this passion on behalf of our kids. And it starts young. About toddler age, I'm afraid. As a little public service announcement, I would like to share with you all that no toddler is ever going to be passionate about Parent and Tot soccer. It's just not going to happen. They might have fun, or at least pick a good number of dandelions, but that's different from "passion."
Why do we go into these activities with such high expectations? Why do we think that we may see some sort of little spark in our kids that will confirm that they are in the right sport that will one day develop into their passion?
Why do we go into these activities with such high expectations?
I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with passion. I myself have a daughter who has found a passion for a sport. She is a cheerleader, and she has never once complained about going to practice. She wants to be at the gym all the time, and she comes alive when she performs her routine. It has been amazing to see this love for her sport grow in her, so I know that there is nothing wrong with it — but I also know that not every person will have an all-encompassing passion for one specific thing when they are a child.
My other daughter likes a lot of things and is passionate about them in turns, but in turns that are relatively short lived. And then she moves on. She has not found her one big passion and I want to put it out there that it is OK. More than OK. It is who she is. She is totally in love with horseback riding until she becomes excited about trying karate. And sometimes — oftentimes, actually — she is passionate about no sport or activity. She is really good at a lot of things, but it doesn't lead her to an all-encompassing love for any one activity. That is her personality.
And just as I love that one of my daughters is passionate to her core about a sport, I also love that my other daughter has an overriding passion for no one particular thing. She has years and years ahead of her to develop a great, all-encompassing love for something (if that's where life leads her). But if not, then what's wrong with going along in life on an even keel? What's wrong with "liking" lots of things and loving (to the exclusion of all others) none? Nothing, I would venture to say.
I suppose I could use myself as an example of this. When I was younger, I really liked a lot of sports. I liked baseball and volleyball. I liked playing the flute. I liked creative writing. But it wasn't until I was in my 40s that I developed a true passion for anything at all — for writing. And did I find my childhood was less rich because of it? No, not at all.
They don't need to find a passion at two, or at eight or at 18... or ever, really.
So, while we as a society embrace our kids who have found the sport or activity that is going to be their go-to and their passion, let's also embrace the kids who either don't feel the need to have that kind of passion or just haven't found theirs yet. Either way, that's totally OK. Let's give kids a break. They don't need to find a passion at two, or at eight or at 18... or ever, really. I'm living proof. I found a passion at 42. And I would be the first to admit that it was perfect timing.
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So let's not push our kids quite so hard if they aren't showing those first sparks of passion towards an activity. Sure, let them try new things, but take some of the pressure off and allow them to just enjoy themselves. If it's going to develop into something more, you likely won't have much control over it anyhow, so best just to let it happen. Let kids be kids if that's where they're at.
There will be plenty of time for passion later. And it will very likely be well past toddlerhood.
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