They can't be whatever they want to be.
I know this goes against popular children's books, well-loved teachers, and "The More You Know" spots on NBC.
But despite my tongue-in-cheek statement otherwise, I am a firm believer in the limitations of kids (and adults, for that matter.)
I will never be a WNBA player or a runway model. I could play basketball for 14 hours a day, followed by fiercely strutting my stuff as I watched America's Next Top Model, and it wouldn't happen. Simple reason? I'm 5'2".
And I'm glad I was encouraged to build on my true skills and talents instead of following pipe dreams. By focusing on what I was actually equipped to do, I accomplished some pretty cool things as a kid. Primarily in the field of academics, which doesn't require height or coordination.
Those terrible singers on American Idol who are genuinely convinced they have talent? Many of their parents told them they could do anything. What a hard fall it is for them when they realize it's not true.
And this one goes against our academically-focused mindset in America, but here goes....
That kid in college who flunks out not because he didn't try but because his brain genuinely doesn't fit into the test-taking model? That guy might have succeeded if he'd followed his dream of working on cars instead of listening to his parents and going to college. He might be a homeowner, a mechanic living comfortably and working happily, instead of slaving away at McDonald's convinced that because he failed his tests, he can't succeed in life.
So let's encourage our kids to try new things, to experiment, and to set goals. Let's remind them that not being good at a subject doesn't mean they shouldn't give it their best shot. But above all, let's teach them to find the things they are both passionate about and naturally good at, and cheer them on as they become better at being...themselves.
Please, somebody give me a good lashing if you ever hear me tell my children they can do anything they want to do.
A tongue-lashing, that is. My petite, 5'2" frame couldn't handle a lashing of any other kind.