Have your children ever asked you for something so ridiculous to you? You couldn’t help but laugh? Did they want to start doing something that was so against something you could imagine? Maybe it was something kind of simple like becoming a vegan, but the idea of trying to figure it out made your skin crawl? Let’s discuss this.
Don’t Squash Your Child’s Dreams
How many times have your children come out with outrageous requests? Recently my daughter expressed interest in owning a horse. I had to bite my tongue to not laugh at the idea of a horse in our tiny two-bedroom apartment. While it may be hard at times, I want to make sure that I don’t squash their dreams.
Snap their dreams back to reality
I don’t know why, but for some reason, it is our gut instinct to take our children’s dreamlike innocence and snap them back to reality. “Do you understand that we live in a tiny apartment in Brooklyn, without any outdoor space for ourselves, let alone a horse.” “A horse needs land, a stable, food, someone to take care of it, including poop removal,” which will be bigger than anything she has ever seen before. We want to guard them against disappointment by disappointing them straight from the get-go.
Instead of popping their bubbles, I try to bring them to reality in a different way. I work hard to support their fantasy, and I steer them towards things they can do and experience without giving them what they want.
Let their dreams grow
I ask questions that lead to deep conversations and even some partnered research. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a horse?” “What would you name your horse?” “What would you feed it?” “Where would it get exercise?” “Would you ride it up and down the street?” “Where would it sleep?” “How would you pay for the horse and then all the expenses?”
Okay, that last one is one you don’t want to start with, but it is a legitimate concern, and you want to start teaching your kids responsibility, so if they want something, something they don’t need to survive, how are they going to pay for it?
Another thing to remember, don’t start asking your children all of these questions at once. You want to give them that chance to think about it, to live their fantasy if only in their mind. Let them go through the motions of naming their horse, finding the perfect breed online, learning about how to take care of it. The costs, and maybe even coming up with ideas to pay for it and it’s expenses. Beware, your child may surprise you with some fantastic answers, or they may lose momentum for it all on their own.
If it is possible, you can feed the fantasy with practical possibilities even if they fall short from the full fantasy. For example, I have looked into horseback riding lessons for my daughter, we have visited the farm, we have read books and magazines about horses out from the library, watching shows and documentaries about horses. There are so many ways you can feed the fantasy without giving in to it, and sometimes the fantasies aren’t as huge and may be fulfilled.
They aren’t worn-down like we are
The fantastic thing about children is they enjoy all the possibilities. They aren’t worn-down like many of us. They haven’t had their hopes stacked up and then squashed down. They don’t manage the money for the family or pay any of the bills. They don’t have to deal with adult relationships; they have boundless energy, the energy that I always envy. There is no need to kill their dreams and fantasies before they have even had a chance to form fully. Let them breathe, let their imaginations grow, let them run their course, let it manifest in conversations, play, illustrations, writing, reading, and planning. Make it apart of your homeschool, follow those interests. You may be surprised where they lead.
Support their dreams and support yours
Find those little pieces you can support in any way you can. The shocking thing is what you will realize a little support can do. If you can think back to something you wanted as a child, something now that you look back on as so outrageous and see how if things were done differently, what would you have learned? Now, think about something you want right now, maybe it is a good nights sleep, a hot cup of coffee that you don’t have to reheat, or perhaps it is getting your masters degree, learning about health and nutrition, taking a dance class, or learning to crochet. We all have wild dreams, some wilder than others, some attainable with a little effort, some needing a barrel and a half full of effort. Either way, try to be supportive of yourself. Don’t let the dream die inside of you. Stop burying it deep down. Be supportive of yourself, and find little ways to experience those dreams.