I took a childhood education class a few years back, and the teacher had us take several different personality tests, multiple times (for ourselves, for each of our kids, and for our spouses). As I pondered this new information and what to do with it, Julie talked about how we live in a society where being “well-rounded” is considered a top priority by many. We don’t just want our children to enjoy sports, do adequately academically and graduate from high school and/or college, and learn to express themselves though the arts . . . we wanted them to be successful—often equally; who doesn’t love a straight-A student—in every endeavor. She asked us to think about this; whether it was possible, whether it was worth it, and what we would be giving up for ourselves, our families, and our children, if this was the path we choose to lead them on—the path of being jacks-of-all-trades—instead of allowing them to choose their passion, and supporting them in it.
I’m a dancer and a dance teacher. Ballet is one of my passions and it has been since I was a child. I was in junior high school when friends I had been taking class with for years began to drop out. For many, it was a change of interest, or a financial situation, but for some it was something else. Their parents had decided that their passion wasn’t worth the investment. As one friend tearfully told me, they logically explained that since she wasn’t going to make it a career—because no one does that, really—they weren’t going to pay for her to dance any longer. It was time for her to put away childish things, and focus on that which would provide a safe and useful future by their estimation. To say she was devastated was to put it mildly. It changed the course of her teen years, and not necessarily in a good way.