The Story of Parental Support: It Matters
Encouraging Your Kids to Think Beyond the Box
I loved Lego. For years, I would spend weekend afternoons with my lifelong friend, Noah, sitting cross-legged on any available surface pushing the pieces together. We weren’t just playing, we were creating. The bricks, occasionally handed to us by our generous families, became the ultimate outlet for our wild imaginations.
My parents didn’t shower me with new Lego sets on a weekly basis, rather, they encouraged me to break down the structures we made, and create something new with what was available. A new set purchased for a holiday or birthday was considered a treat, thus fostering an attitude of resourcefulness and appreciation for new tools. While I wasn’t conscious of it at the time, this was my first step towards a possible future in engineering.
Supporting Your Child’s Passions
As I grew, my desire to explore the process of design was further encouraged by my parents who were happy to get behind my STEM related interests. They registered me for a weekly robotics course where, at the age of 10, I began learning about mechanics and circuitry. In the first activity, “Toy-Autopsies”, we took toys apart and attempted to reconstruct them and return their functionality. We proceeded to spend hours using seemingly unlimited amounts of foamcore, X-Acto Knives, hot glue, motors, and remote controllers to construct primitive robots which we couldn’t be more proud of. I later went on to be a member of my university robotics design team and participated in the design of a lunar rover and an autonomous submarine.
This pattern of encouragement to do what I love early on helped to grant me the fundamental skills, drive, and confidence I needed to ultimately obtain my Mechanical Engineering degree a few months ago. I don’t know where it’s going to take me, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Encourage Your Children to Follow their Dreams
Jess’ story is a little more uncommon. While a career in the world of art is not always as easy for a parent to support, her parents persuaded her to follow her dream and find a way to make a career out of doing what she loves.
It didn’t take long for Jess to discover her talent for drawing and painting, inherited by her skilled father. She began drawing classes at the age of 6 and continued to do so virtually every weekend until she was 14. She then continued to develop her skills in art class throughout high school and independently at home as her parents bought her art supplies for every birthday throughout her teenage years.
Be There to Support and Advocate for Your Child’s Passions When They Come to a Cross Road.
In high school, she made it her goal to achieve a degree in Biology. She decided that while art was her passion, the sensible path to take was to follow the herd of her social circle and pursue an education in STEM. This wasn’t what she really wanted though and it took a dedicated parent to recognize that. During the university application process, Jess’ father questioned her decision to turn her back on her passion and suggested she look into the Ontario College of Art and Design. At the last minute, she whipped together a portfolio, sent in her application, and aced the interview. Five years later, she has an undergraduate degree in fine arts and a diploma in Graphic Design from Parsons in New York City. She now has the opportunity to do what she loves every single day simply because her father suggested she follow her dreams.
As you can see, we followed dramatically different paths, but they were our own. Thanks to the guidance of our supportive parents, we were able to find those paths and turn them into valuable launching points for what will hopefully be successful careers.