When it comes to what kids want to be when they grow up, their options are colorful and varied. Limited only by their imaginations, kids can be anything that their minds can create. My mom loves to tell the story of me, when I was five years old and asked by a grown up what I wanted to be. Apparently, the two choices that were highest in my mind were a nun - or a stripper.
And how I knew about the second option, she had NO idea.
Kids are funny. At any given time, my own kids have vowed to be police officers, priests, teachers, opera singers, veterinarians, mounted police, and mommies with lots of babies. It can be tough to listen to each of those choices with a straight face, to avoid laughing at the earnest little face that vows to be a brick maker or cookie taster. To see that little face look up and you and hear the words, "I want to be a..." means to face the future in all of it's glory - are you ready for that?
Listen to Your Child - The desire to be a ballerina might sound far fetched, but maybe your child really does love to dance - and someone has to be the dancer in the family. Respect your child enough to lend credence to any job that is mentioned. After all, it's not up to you to throw a dash of reality on the child - society does that all too well. Is there some way you can help your child to realize their dreams?
Take Her Seriously - Above all, remember that you are the parent. You are the first person that a child will, many times, confide in, and if you blow up the child's dream to write a book, you could be causing more harm than you know. If your child has a desire to work in a field that is not typical for her gender, don't try to dissuade her with facts. Instead, support her and help her circumnavigate those gender roadblocks.
Expose Him to Many Different Careers - I once knew a boy whose father decided that his young son would be a banker. He took to every single activity that had anything to do with banking - and nothing else. As a result, when this boy failed math in college and ultimately flunked out, he had absolutely no idea in what else he could possibly interested. Expose your child to all kinds of things in all kinds of situations. You have no idea what will stick.
Build Interests - If your child loves to build, enroll him in classes that encourage this love. Maybe he will move from Lego club to Minecraft to architecture.
Don't Overlook the Obvious - Say your child likes to play sports. Odds are, there won't be a professional ball player in your future - but just maybe your child could be a great coach, athletic advisor or personal trainer. Your child might love to read - and while few people can get paid to lay around and read, it's entirely possible your child could be a librarian - or a publisher!
Never Limit Based on Gender - Fifty years ago, girls were very limited to their choices - but no longer. If your daughter wants to be an attorney or a judge, be sure to encourage her and don't tell her she's can't do it becuse she's female. She will certainly hear much of that in her life, but help her to feel that you are 100% on her side.
What did you want to be when you grew up, and did you keep the same career choice? What have your kids said they'd like to be when they grow up? How do you encourage these goals?