When your children’s dreams are different than your own

When our children's dreams are different than our ownWritten by contributor Cheryl Pitt of CherylPitt.com

When I began homeschooling 13 years ago, I did it for many reasons. First and foremost, because it was a desire laid on my heart.

However, as I researched homeschooling, I found I liked the philosophy behind it, the lifestyle and that many homeschoolers did so well in comparison with their public school counterparts.

But also in my heart, I wanted more than the average for my child.

Don’t we all?

No matter how happy our childhood, we always want our children to have it better than we did. We want more. More choices, education, opportunity to explore interests, freedom for them to soar and realize their full potential.  I don’t know what grand scheme I had in mind for my eldest, but I wanted him to soar!

Today he is 17, intelligent, and a hard worker. I was so proud when he recently landed his first job as a package handler for a shipping company. He loves his job and is proud of the paycheck that comes with it. As am I! I often tell him how proud I am of his work ethic and diligence.

I surprised myself one day, though, when he came home and asked if he could apply to be a driver assistant. He was excited. This opportunity meant more hours, more pay and a step up the package handler ladder. Maybe one day he could deliver packages, not just load them.

So why was I hesitant, upset even? I gave him my blessing, but in my mind I had some ugly thoughts. I wondered…

Is this really what the last 13 years have been about? Why did I sacrifice untold hours, years even, to facilitate his education? The good days of accomplishment and the bad days of tears?  All so my son can become a truck driver?

Child's PotentialI realize how prideful and snotty that must sound. I was surprised by the ugliness of those thoughts myself. But I’m here to be real with you, because I know I’m not the only mother who has ever felt that way.

We all say we want our children to be happy. We want them to go where their passion lies. (I’ve said it for 17 years!) But when our children’s passions fall short of *our* dreams, it’s not as easy to accept.

I can’t tell you what grand scheme I had envisioned for my son. I’m not sure what “more” I dreamed for him. Maybe it meant politician, CEO or jet setting missionary…I don’t know. But I didn’t expect package handling truck driver. So began my period of soul searching.

And I realized many things…

  • My disappointment came from my own warped expectations.
  • I was taking society’s standard of success and projecting that upon my dreams for my children.
  • 17 is very young, my son has his whole life before him.
  • My father is a truck driver and I’m very proud of him, my son should not be different.
  • I really do want my son to be happy.
  • My son has a destiny to fulfill and I need to trust the path.
  • Anyone can impact this world for good wherever they are in their walk of life.

My son can do GREAT THINGS in any job because he is equipped – not only with a good education but with a sound moral character instilled over years of homeschooling.

Is this something you’ve ever struggled with? Are you struggling with it today? Perhaps your struggle has nothing to do with a job. This post really isn’t about a job. It’s about reconciling one mom’s ideas of *more* with the reality of everyday greatness. I simply want to encourage you.

When your child’s dreams fall short of your hopes. When they don’t want to take over the family business. When you’re an English buff and your child hates to read.

In any circumstance where reality hammers at expectations, remind yourself of this:

Child's Potential
Your child was created with a unique personality for a unique purpose. Don’t try to change them. Encourage them in who they are, so they may grow to fulfill their purpose.

About Cheryl Pitt

Cheryl has been homeschooling since 2001; she home educates 5 children from baby to teen. She is a brand consultant and avid social media user. Her heart for strong family values and the companies that promote them, led her to found the 2:1 Conference - the only conference for homeschooling parents active in social media. You can find Cheryl at her blog Cheryl Pitt.


  1. My oldest is only 11, but I already know I will struggle with this if I’m not careful. I don’t really have huge aspirations for them in the typical, “get a good job, make lots of money” sense. But I do have grand plans for them to do big things for God, be missionaries, go into full time service, etc. Because that’s what I wanted to do with my life! And I would be sooo disappointed if they didn’t get married and have children. I think I have my work cut out for me, trusting God with HIS plan for them, not MINE!

    • Kristin,
      I know exactly what you mean. I want my son to make a huge impact for the Kingdom and I wonder how he’ll do that exactly. But that’s when I remind myself that God notices the “littlest of these” and that little things on earth may be big things in eternity. The fact that you already consider this means you’re doing a great job already. But yes. We must have grandbabies. That is not negotiable 😉

  2. I too remember that my grandfather – who worked in a factory his whole life – is someone I admire for so much more than his job title. I try to keep this in mind when thinking of the future for my young children. I want them to be educated, hard working people who are able to enjoy their lives. For some that means higher degrees and fancy job titles, but for some people it means a job that you enjoy, that pays the bills and allows you to focus on the other things in life.

    I remembered my grandfather’s life a lot when I left the career I went to college for to take a job in my hometown that requires no higher education before my first child was born. It was something I struggled with – that I wasn’t defined by those accomplishments – but it’s now just a job that pays the bills, and I let my life was wife, mother, child, friend define me and you know what? I’m more content than I ever was in my other “career”.
    Molly’s latest post: An Unexpected Hobbit Day Present

    • I’m so happy for you Molly. It sounds like you know what’s really important and have your priorities straight. Your kids are blessed that you stepped away from a career to put them first!

  3. Oh, I know this feeling so well! Our oldest son – so smart and talented chose to work in the construction field. Now there is nothing wrong with construction but I had college dreams for him! Son #2 and son #3 worked this same issue out in a different way….I had visions of cheerful, motivated and “loving to learn” students and the first 3 were exactly that. The next two put in their time and Hated it! They were not strong academic students, they struggled all the way through – again, my dreams of “surpassing all those school kids” were not theirs. I’m happy to say that all three sons are hard working, forward-thinking, contributing members of society – in spite of Mama’s Pride :).

    • Thank you for the encouragement and sliver lining 🙂 Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. Three sons who work hard and contribute to society – that’s definitely something to be proud about 🙂

  4. Whoo, boy. We struggle with this a lot with our musically gifted child. We see this enormous potential in her, and we know she could find a great deal of “success” in music if she worked hard – but her heart isn’t into working hard at music. In fact, it’s not really into working at it at all. Sometimes I think her natural ability is a hindrance in this area because she can do a lot, quite well, with very little effort. As her parents, we’re thinking “college scholarship!” but at the same time we don’t want to coerce her to do something to the point where she ends up hating it. How much is she really not enjoying it and how much is it just not wanting to put forth the effort? How high of an expectation is healthy and helpful? When we see potential, it’s our job to unearth it and help them polish it – but ultimately what they do with it is up to them. I just don’t want her to look back and lament that we didn’t have her stick with it (which I’ve heard of kids doing). I also don’t want to make her stick with music and have her end up hating it and dropping it as soon as she’s able (which I’ve also heard of kids doing). Blergh, this parenting gig is tough!

    • I think you hit the nail on the head Annie when you said it’s up to them to polish their gifts. We can’t do it for them. This parenting gig is tough! But trust that even if the gifts are put on the shelf for a while, they can be brought back out when needed. When the time is right, it will all fall together.

  5. God bless you for being real & honest!! You are a true blessing to your family!!

  6. My husband also was a package handler when he was 18- and then many other jobs in the same company including package deliverer. He is now 33 and is a manager in this same company. In this particular shipping company they promote from within so everyone at some point was the low man on the totem pole. I understand the dreams for your child but all children have to work their way up and do the jobs that could very well teach them lessons for down the road. This same company also provides college assistance.

    • Woohoo! There’s hope! 😉 I totally agree – I’m trusting his path. I am sure he’s growing in the areas he is meant to grow for the future. Thanks for the encouragement.

  7. Wow. This is a terrific transparent post. My kiddos range in age from 10 – 26 and life is full of watching their passions as they get older NOT match our dreams and expectations always. And, yet, the reality is they excel where their passions take them. Perhaps it’s not always even in the realm of our thoughts (Our son who is graduating from college as a physics major and wants to pursue a direction in the military that would mean enlisting, not as an officer). But we need to rejoice as they fulfill their honorable dreams. Thank you words.

    • No, thank you for your words, Momofnine. “they excel where their passions take them” <–so true!! If my son is chasing my dreams he won't grow, excel, or fulfill his purpose. Fantastic perspective!

  8. I’d rather have a happy child who delivers packages with a smile on his face and a song in his heart than a grouchy one who crunches numbers or a frustrated one who leads through force and power. I’d rather my child be a garbage hauler who is home with his family in the evening and on the weekends than to be a business manager who works around the clock. Yes, I have dreams for my children, but with the 2 who are already adults, I’ve seen good results with being someone who they know will help them talk through the pros and cons, then let them decide for themselves.
    Teens are still so young! Let them try some things out, explore, make mistakes, make changes, make choices. There is ALWAYS room to grow.
    Courageous Jane’s latest post: Introducing … Mishy

  9. Beautiful honesty, thank you for sharing. I had a chuckle as my son (6) has drawn several images of him as a UPS man when he grows up. To him, a big vehicle + bringing joy to people by bringing them big packages = awesome life. 🙂
    Lynnette’s latest post: September gallery

  10. I can’t really say for sure how I’ll feel when my kids grow up and get jobs. But, I can say that I’m very impressed at a 17 year old who has the ambition to “climb the ladder” at any company! How many 17 year olds are headed to college with no clue what they enjoy doing, and who mainly have partying on the brain? My husband did not finish his college education because he found his passion outside that realm and now provides for us through a very successful management career. You’ve probably trained your son to follow his passions and interests. If he’s enjoying himself, and looking for ways to improve, at just 17, you have good reason to be proud, Mama! Those early jobs are rarely our career destinations. They’re a learning process along the journey to discovering our life’s work. Not to mention, if he’s this ambitious (and faithful) in “the little things” (like delivering packages), imagine how he might approach bigger things: marriage, fatherhood, friendships, hobbies? How will he chose to use his free time when he is not working? Will he someday be a faithful father and husband? A mentor? A woodworker/crafter? Now is his time to unfold and find out these things for himself. It sounds as though you’ve given him a wonderful foundation for anything God has planned for him! He sounds like a great kid!

  11. Thanks for your honesty. I appreciate your post, and reminds me to keep an open mind with all my children, so they have the freedom to live the life God has created and called them to live.
    Linda’s latest post: I Remember Her Name

  12. I didn’t marry until I was 34. Prior to that, everytime my mom would ask me if I was seeing anyone and I’d answer, “No”, she’d sigh and say, “But I just want you to be HAPPY”. I kept telling her that I was! I had a great job, time to travel, tons of friends and hobbies and life was great. But to her, “happy” meant a husbad and 6 kids by age 30 therefore, I surely must be miserable without a spouse.

    Just as with your story, it’s so important to remember that we may want our kids to be happy, successful, fulfilled, healthy, stable…..but those words must be defined by THEM, not us!

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