This is a guest post I did for the Dads over at Dishes and Diapers. Please check them out here.
I wanted to be a basketball player.
That’s all I wanted to do. When any adult asked me the old boring question of what I wanted to be when I grew up, the only answer I had was that I wanted to play basketball. I never wanted to be a firefighter or an astronaut, a pilot or policeman. I always wanted to play basketball. Michael Jordan was one of my childhood heroes and I was determined to be like Mike.
If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m not in the NBA. I didn’t have scholarship offers come in while I was in high school, and I didn’t play basketball in college. Not every kid that wanted to be a firefighter is fighting fires right now, and not every kid that wanted to be an astronaut is in the space station. But those were our dreams, and it’s okay that we had them. It’s what makes us children. Finding out what you love and then deciding that you’re going to do that no matter what is one of the best things about childhood.
It’s very important to me as a father to teach my children to dream as big as they possibly can.
I want to instill in them at an early age that anything they can dream of in their minds they can achieve in reality. If my son wants to be the first man on Mars, then every single day he has that dream I am going to tell him that he will be the first man on Mars. If he wants to own his own chain of sandwich shops, then I’ll tell him everyday that he is going to own the best chain of sandwich shops the world has seen. And I’m going to mean it when I say it. It’s not going to be something I say just to please him or make him happy. I will actually believe that he will walk on Mars so I can pass that belief on to him. No dream is too big or even too small. Whatever he wants to be, he can be.
Obviously I can’t just tell him everyday that he’ll be the first man on Mars and then just sit down with him and eat chips on the couch watching TV.
Telling your children they can be what they want is a great start but preparing them to become it is just as important.
Since he’s decided he wants to be the first man on Mars, I’ll paint his room to look like the solar system and I’ll put Mars right in front of his bed so it’s the first thing he sees in the morning and the last thing he sees at night. We’ll build model rockets and we’ll read every children’s book I can find about space, rockets, and Mars. We’ll turn the living room into the space station and pretend we’re floating around in space.
When he’s older we’ll go to planetariums and join groups and clubs about space and the solar system and I’ll send him to space camp. I’ll get him educational books about space and I’ll stress the importance of doing well in school so he can learn everything he wants and needs to learn to become the first man on Mars. I’ll do everything in my power to get him in contact with people that work in that field even if it means taking a trip to NASA.
Even after all of this if he doesn’t become the first man on Mars or an astronaut, it will all still be worth it.
I still spent his entire childhood teaching him it’s okay to chase your dreams.
I’ll show him how to turn his dreams into a burning desire and how to surround yourself with the things that will help you turn that desire into your reality. What his dreams are aren’t relevant to me. I will support any dream my children have no matter how ridiculous or seemingly unattainable it might be. What matters to me is that I teach him the process of turning dreams into desires and desires into reality.
It’s my goal to teach them that every night before they go to bed and every morning they wake up they should be thinking about their dreams. Their minds need to be consumed by it so it’s almost an obsession to them. I’ll teach them to never worry about what others think and what they say, and that there will be people that tell them they can’t do it and that they shouldn’t do it. Those people don’t matter. I’ll make sure they know it won’t be easy making their dreams come true. They’ll fail, a lot, but it’s okay to fail. We learn new information every time we fail and we can use that information to do better next time. I’ll tell them they’ll want to quit and that they’ll start thinking that it’s impossible. But I’ll let them know that huge success usually comes right after a person has lost almost all hope, and that if they really want to achieve their dreams they need to keep pushing forward no matter what. Success is always right around the corner.
The world needs more dreamers.
We need more people who aren’t afraid to quit and who don’t care that society thinks they’re crazy. Our children will eventually become adults who are making important decisions and taking our world into the future. So when your son tells you he wants to go to Mars, you run out to the store and buy some model rockets and tell him he can go to Mars because we need a generation of children who think anything is possible.