Monday, October 14, 2013

How Can Parents Help Our Children Choose a Profession?

Choosing a profession these days is often difficult for young people as there are so many options and we are often find a conflict in choosing what we enjoy versus what will earn us lots of money. How can a parent help guide a child in this choice?

First, we cannot put money as our primary criteria as we will likely mislead our child. What is important is to discern the skills that God has given our child based on what they have chosen to do so for.  What is it they excel at? What is it that gives them joy? What are their innate skills and personality type. With careful discernment we can gently guide them in a direction where they make choices that are in harmony with God's will for them. We mustn't be too pushy about this or get in our minds what our child should become based on our desires. 

Elder Paisios tells the story of a parent who want their son to become a doctor, but his inclination was to become a priest. They wouldn't let him, forcing him along the path to medical school. 
The young man had studied Byzantine music and chanted; he had even made his own musical instrument, and found the tones on his own. He knew Byzantine music by heart. He had a gift. He wrote chants and services. As soon as he finished high school, he took the entrance exam and was accepted into the Theological School. His mother had a nervous breakdown because of her grief. She would come and to me and beg: "Father, pray for me to get well, and I'll let my child do whatever he wants." But when she did get well she refused to let him do what he wanted. Later, he abandoned everything and in the end wasted away.
We can easily confuse our own wishes for our children for what is best for them. We must try to understand what God intends for them and help them do whatever it is that fits their natural God given talents. This we can usually see from an early age.

Elder Paisios tells of a story of a two young boys who came to visit him who were about seven years old. One of them sat next to hims and kept asking questions. The elder then asked him, "What do you want to do when you grow up?" He answered, "I want to be a lawyer." The other boy was no where in sight. They sought out to find where he went and found him in the wood shop. The heard the sound of a hammer pounding on wood. When they entered the wood shop they saw the young boy pounding with a hammer a smooth plank used of planing that was on the work bench that was now warped beyond salvage. The elder asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up and he said, "A cabinet maker." The elder smiled at him and said to him, " May you become one." He also told him with a smile, "so you destroyed the plank! Its alright!"

Naturally we want to help our children to avoid going in directions that are not in line with  their capabilities. So there is useful guidance we can and must provide. We also have to make sure what direction they take is in harmony with God.

Reference: Elder Paisios of Mount Athos Spiritual Counsels IV: Family LIfe, pp 178-180

1 comment:

  1. I envy your lifestyle, and you want to be able to become friends.


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