Is it wrong to nudge your little girl toward a lucrative career?
Beth Falkenstein: My oldest girl just started high school, a time when childhood starts to appear in the rearview mirror (as new wrinkles appear in my bathroom mirror), a time when choices start to matter and mistakes can take longer to fix. Maybe it was time, I thought, to persuade her to give up her lifelong career goal of becoming Bon Bon, the fourth Powerpuff Girl.
Okay, that's something of a writer's flourish. She has also shown interest in more realistic professions, such as a rock star and a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. Not that those pursuits aren't valid, they're just a little too elusive to assuage my parental concerns. That's fancy talk for "they can't guarantee she'll be able to support herself before she's 30 (and I'm on Social Security)." My dilemma is clear: if she is not on the path to prosperity, when is it the right time to start pushing her relentlessly -- I mean, guiding her lovingly -- in the right direction?
I can see the comments now: "Control freak!" "Financial security isn't everything!" "Three words: President Mojo Jojo!" And I don't disagree with you (although I do feel a bit sorry for one of you). But let's be honest. All those mothers out there who want their kids to become doctors and lawyers aren't doing it because they love discussing contracts and craniotomies at the dinner table. They do it because they want their kids to be able to afford health insurance after they turn 21. Consequently, what's the harm in insisting -- I mean, gently suggesting -- my child declare a major in the 9th grade?
Perhaps I am more concerned than many others due to the fact that I myself am still stymied by the age-old question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I sometimes think that if I had had more direction and focus during my Wonder Years, I might have more accomplishments under my belt by now and (okay, I'll say it) more money. Furthermore, if I had started a wee bit earlier, that novel I want to write might be finished by now and I could be taking a lot more naps. Is it wrong to want my children to be less aimless?
As a matter of fact, my position is actually quite idealistic, because it is based upon the belief that dreams, pursued enthusiastically, can come true. Therefore, why not give my daughter an early shove -- I mean, start?
|Beth Falkenstein was a sitcom writer and freelance contributor to "Self," "Redbook," and "YM" magazines before taking a full time job in her kitchen. She loves her new bosses (ages 13 and 10), and is grateful that they approve of inter-office romance, because Beth thinks her co-worker (Jim, age 45) is really hot.|