Family Parenting

How to help your child discover their passion

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Find out why it’s never too early to have a conversation about life goals with your children.

Many children are asked the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” As adults, we are asked “What do you do?” The latter question is merely the grown up version of the former.

Boy and mom washing hands.

Depending on your level of certainty as a child or one’s social status as an adult, both questions could engender feelings of excitement, curiosity, shame and/or anxiety.

What has become clear to this writer is that both questions lack the substantive ingredients necessary to initiate a more crucial conversation about achieving or living one’s true purpose.

As a father of three girls, one biological and two step-daughters, I am constantly searching for different ways to share creative insight with those three young ladies, insight designed to help inspire them towards identifying their true purpose.

children at school

I do this because I want them to know the inevitable disappointment of centring their thinking and life energy around obtaining a job for vanity or survival sake.

I want them to think more deeply about what motivates them, what makes them happy, and how they can project their motivation and joy outwardly.

Ultimately, what I am asking them to consider is: what are they passionate about and how can they extend their passion to help make the world a better place? The dilemma is, how does one answer that question?

A person without purpose is like a ship without a rudder…

Thomas Calyle

The first step is an inward journey. In his hit song, Man in the Mirror, Michael Jackson sang, “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.”  

Essentially, he encourages us to look inward before embarking on any world changing missions. It is in this sacred space of inward reflection where one will identify their source of joy and self-motivation.

boy and girl walking

Richa Rana wrote the following about purpose:

Identify what brings you pure joy, the kind that makes your soul smile… Ask yourself how does this serve more than just myself, how does it serve other souls, help, heal other souls… Bring the two together and it will lead to your true purpose.

The pathway to discovering one’s true purpose is to know what you’re passionate about. Once you help your child identify their passion, the spark that elevates their curiosity and paints an infectious smile across their face, we must encourage and facilitate the development of that spark.

Whether their passion is dancing, sports, science, math or music, parents play a critical role in the development of their child’s passion and purpose.

Arrange dance classes for them, volunteer to coach their sports team, attend their sporting games and science fairs. Tell them daily you are proud of them as you watch them investing more time developing their passions.

Girl smiling

A child’s passion may change through-out the years. This is to be expected. It may seem like a bumpy roller-coaster ride, especially if you are buying dance slippers one day and musical instruments the next.

Don’t grow weary. Endure the ride. Proudly be their with and for them on this journey of self-discovery. Remind them throughout that their passions matter.

When they’ve achieved some degree of consistency and excellence in their adopted passion, we should begin encouraging them to think about the different ways they could help make the world a better place via their passion.

man playing guitar

For instance, if dance is their passion, once they achieve some level of mastery they could provide free lessons to children not fortunate enough to obtain dance instructions.

If they become proficient in math or science they could volunteer to tutor students less developed in those subjects. The goal is to encourage them to take their passion and pay it forward. The act of paying it forward transforms passion into purpose.

I, like you, want to make the world a better place. That is why I chose to be a fatherhood advocate, my passion and my purpose. Working with fathers allows me the opportunity to share and exchange important parental information.

child with toy

Information I hope helps them to become better fathers, and in some small way, makes the world a better place for our children. I sometimes take my daughters with me when I am planning and staging fatherhood related events so they can see my purpose and passion play out in the real world.

This hopefully will inspire them towards wanting to use their respective passions for a greater cause.

One day, in the not so distant future, I hope all our children will be able to say that they helped make the world a better place for the children of their generation.

Boy playing basketball

One thing you can do today to help make this happen is instead of asking your child what they want to be, start asking them, “How do you want to change the world?”

Mark Winkler is an author, motivational speaker and co-founder of Fatherhood Circle. His new book, My Daughter’s Keeper, is available now from Amazon. For more articles from Mark visit 

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