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My daughter wants to be a poet!
How can I change her mind?

Q: Our 16-year-old informed us that she is interested in pursuing poetry as a career. In this economy, that is the kiss of death! What can I do to help her pick a career path more likely to help her earn a decent living?

A: Although I understand your concern, don’t overreact to her news. Your daughter is at the age where she is discovering how she fits in the world of work. Expressing her thoughts to you is a healthy conversation; celebrate her God-given gifts and continue to encourage her process of self-discovery. She needs someone who loves her to provide confidence to her dreams; soon enough, others will begin offering challenging and, too often, negative feedback.
    Tell her about the many talents and gifts you see in her. Some of our greatest strengths come so naturally that we don’t even notice or value them. For this reason, it’s important to take note of the activities and occupations toward which she gravitates and does well. Periodically ask questions about what she likes about school, a job or hobby. Actively listen and watch her response, including her eyes, facial expression and tone of voice. Her heart and soul are just as likely to exhibit themselves in her mannerisms as in her words. When you note enthusiasm, tell her, “You have energy when ... you light up when ... you are in your zone when ...”
    I also recommend you begin a life or career dream journal with her. A written record of her thoughts and notes of your conversations will become a thought-provoking tool as she explores her life plans. Consider honoring her thoughts by purchasing her a bound, blank journal that is a tangible presence demonstrating her thoughts are important to you.
   Finally, be careful not to impose your own desires on her dreams. In our career counseling practice, I often meet people who made an unfortunate career choice because they were influenced by well-intentioned, yet misguided parents, teachers or friends. Surely, our children need our guidance. Yet, they also need the freedom to dream their dreams and hear for themselves the Lord’s calling.
  As the Parable of the Talents reminds us in Matthew 25:14-29, we all are given talents – which we are called to use, not bury. Encourage your daughter to discover her inner S.A.I.N.T. (Skills, Abilities, Interests and Natural Talents) and how she may use these gifts to help create God’s kingdom here on earth. She may not always choose the most lucrative financial path, but fulfilling God’s plan for her life is an eternal richness of a higher calling.

Nick Synko is a professional career and workplace issues coach.
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