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I keep hearing parents tell me that they are looking for that one thing that their children will love to do, as if they might be able to discover their child’s passion for him. But I don’t think it happens that way. I think kids find their own passions, and having parents trying to locate them for them interrupts the natural process. Kids know that’s what’s going on, too, that their parents are hoping they will love something, and that puts pressure on them to love something. It is so much more natural to stay out of it. If you try to help your kid find his passion you may become exasperated because it is impossible to accurately imagine someone elses urges. The truth is that in the long run ideas develop and, if you are open to it, they lead to other ideas that spark interests you couldn’t possibly have predicted ahead of time, and those then might lead to feelings that turn into ideas that suggest something you later might like to do. It just isn’t so literal as ‘let’s see if ballet is your passion’. That’s why some people’s passions are growing flowers and others are making things out of corks. And all of this happens over time, without pressure, and because it really is a true love. And everyone knows you cannot force love.

I am all for letting kids try things since after all they cannot understand life’s opportunities without being shown a few of them, but trying something and then deciding that’s not the passion because it isn’t fun for the long haul does not make sense. For me great reasons parents might have their children try an activity are for social experiences, or for getting exercise, or for developing talents or interests. Music lessons are great for teaching long term goals and for offering a source of expression and joy that comes later. And, of course, kids do not understand these abstract concepts. To me signing kids up for activities is a means adults have of giving their children these wonderful gifts, and do not have a lot to do with legitimately searching for passions.

The best way to help a child find his passion: listen well to his actions.