Exploring Children’s Interests Can Uncover a Hidden Passion

Purposeful Parent Tip:  Go the extra mile when your child shows  interest.

I spent yesterday afternoon with my daughter at an event called “Building a Future from the Past” hosted by the Wilton Historical Society. This event included a panel of distinguished architects from Fairfield County, CT and New York City. No, I am not giving up my Purposeful Parent hat to become an architect. (I was good in math but not so good in art, which I’m told are two key ingredients for being a good architect!). I was there with my daughter.

Let me tell you about how we ended up at this event on a lovely spring day. My daughter was given a project in her Academically Talented program at school to design a house for a family. It had to reflect the needs of the family as well as their wants. She had to draw the design, mapping out all of the rooms, walls, windows, doors, etc. It had to be drawn to spec and follow certain guidelines.

She has done many projects in this class, but she really was pumped up about this one. When it was completed, she was very excited to show it to me. I have to say I was impressed! I thought it’d be a good idea to have her meet a practicing architect and see what this profession is really all about.

I posted a note in Facebook and interestingly enough, the former secretary at her school responded with the name of an architect she knows and voila! I contacted him and we were invited to the event where she would get to meet not one, but ten architects! She would witness them participating in a panel discussion on the importance of saving and restoring old houses while incorporating elements of today’s technologies.

When it came time for the audience to ask questions, she whispered to me that she wanted to participate. I asked her what her question was and she said “I want to know the difference between a bad architect and a good architect.” I recommended to her that she simply ask what makes a good architect so that she would know what to strive for should she choose this profession.

So, in a room full of adults, my 11-year old daughter, raises her hand and says “All of you said that there are good architects and bad architects. What makes a good architect?” (Ok…picture me beaming about now…) I saw a few smiles erupt on some faces and recognized immediately this was a great question to ask. (More beaming!)

A few of the architects responded and told her that there are many aspects to being a good architect. They explained a few of these qualities. They also told her that her question was a very difficult one to answer. (More beaming!)

After the panel discussion, she had the opportunity to share her home design with a few of the architects. She clearly explained her reasons for designing things the way she did.  She spoke of the guidelines and constraints she had to work with, and answered
their questions so professionally and clearly that I forgot she was only eleven! Her teacher would’ve been so proud!

To top it all off, the architects were so gracious, so inviting and welcoming to her that her original fear of talking with them dissipated in minutes. The panel moderator offered to display her design alongside the designs of these very talented and accomplished professionals. Talk about beaming! We were both floating!

The net of all of this is that whether or not my daughter chooses to be an architect or not, she had the opportunity to meet with people she never would’ve met and discuss a topic for which she has a real interest. The architects were so genuine and open with her. One even invited her to his office. All of them encouraged her to continue to follow her passions no matter what they may be.

After we left, my daughter asked me how she did. After I swallowed the lump in my throat from the immense pride I felt for her, I told her she did fantastic. I told her that she made a great impression and that these people will likely remember her for quite some time. I also explained to her that this one action – attending an event – led to an even greater outcome than either of us could have imagined with her design on display in this historical building.

“Never be afraid to get out and try something new,” I told her. “You never know where it may lead.”

When your child shows an interest in something, go the extra mile and explore it with them. Perhaps have them meet someone who does what they want to do for a living. People are always willing to help. Just ask!


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