We all heard the question as kids ourselves, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Hard to say or predict but these six questions can lead you into an interesting conversation with older elementary or tween children. Questions are taken from Ralph T. Mattson and Arthur F. Miller, Jr., Finding A Job You Can Love,
P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ, 1982.
1. What are your most important achievements? (not experiences like going to Hawaii; not talents like being a good artist). Example: I directed and starred in plays with my cousins.The most successful play included transforming an unused tool shed in the backyard into a castle.
Admiration or envy
2. Who do you envy or admire? (break it down until you get an idea of exactly what the child admires. Example: Jen made a You Tube video (a skill); Tomas got the most applause at the talent show (a result); Uncle Steve gets to work in a jungle (a location); Connor’s dad does cycling with him (a relationship.
Angry or upset
3. What upsets or angers you about the world?
4. When you have free time, what do you return to do again and again?
5. What rewards (both obvious and intangible) mean the most to you?
6. What activities and events do you look forward to doing before they happen? (Anticipation is an indication of how people are motivated to work or play.)
If you are someone currently helping children develop their souls, seven warning signs can tell you if you’re tilting off course. Run through this list periodically and consider which areas might be interfering in the child’s spiritual development or sending negative messages.
- Spiritual sharing that is not age-appropriate or personality-appropriate (i.e. scaring or confusing children).
- Modeling behaviors that are different from we teach children to do (i.e. not practicing what we preach).
- Refusing to admit our own mistakes, hiding our faults, blaming others (i.e. lack of honesty and taking responsibility).
- Assuming that young children aren’t interested in learning about God (i.e. silence on the subject of God).
- Waiting to talk with children about God until they have done something wrong (i.e. creating feelings of guilt and judgment around God).
- Teaching by our actions that many other things in life are more important than God and spirituality (i.e. ignoring God and prioritizing other areas of life–sports, activities, hobbies, romantic relationships, social events)
- Forcing children to agree with whatever we think about God (i.e. forgetting that a child has the right to make up his or her own mind).
If you’re thinking that’s a lot to remember and be responsible for, you’re not alone. Helping children develop spiritually is not a one-person job. Fortunately, you can turn to resources outside the family like the connection with a faith community.