I Don’t Want My Kids To Be ANYTHING When They Grow Up…

…. Yet.

I don’t want my kids to be anything when they grow up YET. We are overachievers in this household. Education is paramount, success is a goal but as I look at my five year old and 17 month old, I don’t want them to want anything in particular as a career goal for a loooooooooooong time.

When I was five years old I knew what I wanted to be… a LAWYER. For a short time, I wanted to also be a figure ice skater like Debi Thomas, but by and large I wanted to be a lawyer because of my two idols: Thurgood Marshall and Claire Huxtable. I did not have any lawyers who were family members but I knew that lawyers helped people, the way Marshall did and that you could have a balanced life of being a great mother and wife if you were a lawyer because Claire did that – HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA *EXHALES* HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA




ok….. back to the blog…

So that was it – I was going to be lawyer… and that image and goal became such a fantasy that I could not divide myself from it. It became an overwhelming expectation and I would lead with it –

I’m Aisha, I’m from Brooklyn and I’m going to be a lawyer.

The adults around me started to expect it to the point where I heard – Aisha’s going to be the first lawyer in the family, she’s going to be my lawyer some day. I embraced it without really knowing what I was signing up for and also, I closed myself off from other options that were possible for me. When I was in high school I had a math teacher who asked what I wanted to be… I said a lawyer. She looked me dead in the face and said – you have the mind for math, you need to become an engineer and she suggested that I change my high school major. But, I could not do it, Aisha the Lawyer had become such a part of my identity that doing anything else would seem like a failure. So I pressed on… I went to college with the SOLE goal of getting good enough grades to go to law school… that was it. I did not use college as a space of exploration or growth the way I should have – I just wanted to get good grades… and I did it. I often heard from people that I should be a teacher or counselor but I ignored that. I worked at the neighboring law school, I worked at a law firm. I graduated with Phi Beta Kappa honors and was accepted into one of the top ten law schools in the country… Ivy League. Holy Grail.

Now – I currently love my law related job but I no longer practice law. In fact, in many ways I act as a counselor and teacher (ha!) to fellow attorneys. I don’t regret getting my law degree (still think it’s one of the best professional degrees you can get) but what I do regret is the exploration that I missed out on because I was myopic about my goals. I allowed the pressure of being able to answer the question: WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP? take more control over me than it should have especially during a time in life when answering the question was not necessary. Before I even knew who I was or what my talents were I had defined myself…. that’s backwards.

So for my children, I don’t want them to be ANYTHING when they grow up except … OPEN.

When you were young – did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?

10 thoughts on “I Don’t Want My Kids To Be ANYTHING When They Grow Up…

  1. Brenda Greene says:

    Nice and interesting blog.I asked Lady C yesterday if she was going to be a lawyer; reason. She was arguing with me;so I told her lawyers argue for people. Hope she becomes a good and honest person, also find a goooood husband eventually

  2. Bird says:

    Yes, Yes, and yes again. while I don’t necessarily want a Denise Huxtable on my hands (flake extraordinaire) I would like my kids to remain fluid until they find something that they are good at and love rather than apply their skill to the profession that seems most prestigious to them when they are 12. I too am a lawyer who is phasing out of the actual practice of law. And I wonder if I should have become a marriage and family therapist at least once a week. *kanyeshrug*

    • thegreeneblog1314 says:

      There is a lot of pressure we and others put out there when someone dedicates themselves to one of the professional careers. It leaves less ability to be fluid which is sad because most lawyers I know end up doing something else anyway

  3. Alisa says:

    The rubber really hits the road when your child is in college. My daughter shines on the stage and charms just about everyone she meets. As a little girl, she refused to watch “Roots” and was distressed by the parts of the curriculum that included any mention of strife between races. Now, as a second-year (the old words are now politically incorrect) in college, she is hungry for and interested in Africana Studies and her love for Theatre continues – she hasn’t declared her major yet, but (at least today) she is leaning towards majoring in Africana Studies. I was a psychology major and my senior honors thesis was about “Identity Development in Black Women”. A major thread throughout the work was how young white college students were so much freer to explore, while their black peers were locked in to preset goals — they were on a mission, with no time to “waste”. So now, as a (Phi Beta Kappa) mom, I am trying to be supportive of her exploration, and I try to come up with answers when well-meaning people ask “what is she going to do with that?”

    • thegreeneblog1314 says:

      *snaps fingers* Alisa – you are my mommy idol – have I told you that? And I appreciate your words and admire your daughter’s path. At least for me, defining my career was key because it was a FIRST in the family and as one of the first to finish college it was important to BE someone and have focus. But now that I’ve had the luxury of that I understand the importance of understanding self and taking time. Would love to read your thesis.

  4. OMG I so agree on this! I have serious issues with being “corralled” into a specific direction and what that did to me. My skin crawls every time I hear someone tell my son something like “you’re gonna be a doctor” because of all his medical problems. I always think (or say) “He’ll be whatever he wants to be when it’s time”. Great post!

  5. Neek says:

    Love this, because I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up! I’m open to trying new things and professions but there is one thing I know, I love to teach. Was a classroom teacher for many years and have since flipped that into a different career, but continue to TEACH. I agree that when a person figures out what their passion is, it leads them to do the things they love.

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