Nurturing a Non-STEM Career Path

When a baby joins the family, it would seem as if every hope and dream of Mom and Dad is wrapped up in a 7-pound bundle of joy. As the child grows, his first steps, his first word, and yes, his first day of school are the content of a parent’s most precious memories. This latter “first,” especially for the homeschooling family, becomes the roller coaster ride of the next 12+ years as meticulous care is taken to avoid any possible missteps that might ruin him for life (she writes cynically).

All those decades ago when I was a girl, if you had an ounce of aptitude in math or science, you were encouraged–strongly encouraged–to pursue a career in what is now called a STEM (science/technology/engineering/math related) path. Females were grossly underrepresented in these areas; minorities were even more underrepresented.

Decades later, not much has changed. STEM careers are still the chosen path for far too few women and some minority groups. These fields are marketed as “careers of the future;” they are excellent places to start and to build a financially secure future. Yet, what happens when our children make career choices that are off the beaten path? How do we adjust our own vision to nurture the child who chooses to become an athlete, an entertainer, or an entrepreneur? As a chemical engineer by formal education married to a communications major, this particular mom and dad are humorously bewildered regarding how we have, thus far, birthed artsy, entrepreneurial kids.

 

 

I suppose we could have responded as some parents we know, and forced our kids onto certain paths, refusing to support anything else. The “suck-it-up-buttercup” approach is appropriate in some cases. But there are other prevailing realities:

  1. 17-18 years old is very young to choose what you want to do for the rest of your life.
  2. Society and its needs change, creating new opportunities.
  3. If you truly don’t enjoy something, you won’t stick around long enough to see the rewards, financial or otherwise.

No one is more familiar with these realities than I am. As a teen, I loved to write and research, and dreamed about a career in journalism. It only took one voice that I respected to disapprove for me to transition toward a career in a more impressive field. It took me decades to find my way back to writing–something I truly love.

So my own experiences have led me to this conclusion: when a child follows his passion, he will find a way to use it to generate income. PASSION is a word I use a lot in our homeschool–for myself and for the kids. Why? Because passion, whether it is the passion to teach or to learn, will keep you moving long after energy, enthusiasm, and all those more joyous emotions are gone.

The truth is that the world will still continue to need creative people, artistic people, and people with what are commonly called “soft skills.” You know, “people” people. And the world is changing, and with it, needs for information and connectivity change. Think social media management; think life coaching; think “green,” “eco-friendly,” or sustainability management–all career paths that did not exist 10 years ago. Most importantly, our God is the giver of many gifts and talents; we do our children a disservice to try and force-fit them into a place where He might not have created them to be.

In our home of artists and entrepreneurs, passion must be undergirded with an understanding of what it takes to get you off the family payroll. So, we nurture passion, but we also work rigorously to solidify a future where that passion can continue to flourish and allow you to eat and sleep elsewhere. To date, we have a daughter who enjoys the more technical side of the fashion industry, and a son who dances ballet (but also studies kinesiology). Our son and daughter are, in the words of poet Robert Frost, taking ‘the road less traveled by, and that [will make] all the difference.’   Praise God.

Where will the youngest’s passions lead her? Right now, she, too, wants to follow in her brother’s footsteps and dance. So we nurture that passion with a mutual understanding that injuries and rejections are commonplace, so she needs another plan in place as well. Will she choose a STEM path, or business, or liberal arts, or…? She is still deciding, and we lay a solid foundation such that no doors are closed.

 

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4 thoughts on “Nurturing a Non-STEM Career Path

  1. I whole heartedly approve this message! Our oldest, with his degree in Communications and Marketing, is and always has been bound and destined for the entertainment industry. His passion for running his mouth and connecting with people definitely affords him the ability the sleep and live elsewhere. But it also fuels his creative passion for music, poetry and screenwriting. Letting HIS passion take center stage in his life was the best thing we could do for him.

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