Passions, Careers and Time

There seems to be a minority of people in the world who say, “I’m really lucky. I get to do what I enjoy most each day… and I get paid for it!” Everyone else goes to ‘work’, and passions and interests have to fit into the leftover hours of the working week.

Wouldn’t you love your children to be in that minority, and end up in a career they are absolutely passionate about?

How does a child know what to do after school? When someone asked me that question when I was in my final year of school, I answered, “I don’t know.” I had no real idea of what I was interested in. I ended up studying for a Bachelor of Science degree, not because I loved science, but because I was told science would be a good career choice.

After I graduated, I worked in a research department of a university. Although the work was quite interesting, I didn’t wake up each day, thinking, “Wow, another day!” I didn’t jump out of bed saying, “What will I discover today? I can’t wait to find out.” No. Most mornings I thought, “Is it Friday yet?”

What was I passionate about in my high schooling days? It’s hard to remember. I went to school all day and did mountains of homework during the other hours. Andy and I played squash every now and then (we went to school together), I dabbled a bit with craft, I read novels… that’s all I can recall. That’s probably all I could fit into my schooling week. I didn’t have enough free time to experiment and try new things out, to see what I enjoyed and discover what I was good at. I didn’t really have time for passions because I was too busy doing what I was told to do.

A year or so ago, I asked Imogen if she had any ideas about a possible career, and she replied, “Well… I like music, but medicine sounds good too, and then there’s writing.” Imogen actually had too many passions and it was a tough decision narrowing down her choice.

Imogen used to be very involved with St John Ambulance (as were most of my children). Her interest in medicine was nurtured as she administered first-aid to injured people at sporting and other public events. Surrounded by St John’s officers and nurses and doctors, she got to experience what it would be like to work in a medical field. Being a homeschooler, she was able to accept many extra duties during official school hours.

But Imogen has always been surrounded by music too. Music is as natural as breathing in our house…

“Who’s singing the psalm on Sunday?”

“How did your practice go?”

“Can we get together and run through Sunday’s music?”

“Are you going to choir practice tonight?”

“Would you like to come and see me perform?”

“What time are our piano lessons?”

And then there’s writing. We all spend hours experimenting with words, and sharing the results.

Medicine, music, writing…  Imogen could pursue any of these. There are many things she could do as a career. She has lots of big passions (and lots of smaller ones too).

How do we nurture our children’s passions? I think time is a very important part of the answer. Here, unschoolers are at an advantage. Our children have loads of time to be themselves, to explore the world, to experience anything and everything, to decide what they like and what they don’t, to determine where their talents and strengths lie… to do what they want to do. All this helps when someone asks, “What would you like to do as a career?”

“I think I’d like to be a writer, Mum,” says Imogen. “But I want to continue with my music.”

I smile. I am sure Imogen will end up doing something she really enjoys. She will love her work and therefore excel at it. And she’ll even get paid for doing it… Unless of course she ends up writing for the sheer joy of it all. For when you really enjoy working, money doesn’t seem to matter at all.

But time does matter. For without time, how do our children ever discover who they are and what they are good at? How do they discover their passions?


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  1. Reply

    Lovely post Sue – mine aren't at the age of seriously considering careers or future yet (except the girls, who already have their families planned out!)
    I'm trying to encourage the children to think in a way that doesn't have to involve an employer. My husband and I have always wanted to work for ourselves and although nothing has worked out for us yet we still have hope and want to pass that hope and self sufficiency on to the children.

    1. Reply

      Thanks Kelly!

      I'm smiling at the thought of your girls planning out their families. That is so lovely. They know what's really important in life!

      I like the idea of being self employed. I also like the idea of girls doing something that could be combined with motherhood, though I would never discourage a real passion like medicine. What if a child compromised, and then never actually was blessed with a family? Also, I do know a couple of female doctors who successfully combine motherhood with their careers. We have to support whatever our children decide to do.

      I admire you for developing your passion into an online shop. I was thinking about this earlier today. Online businesses are a great way for parents and older children to make some money out of an interest. With the Internet, there are so many more opportunities than were available a few years ago.

      I hope your dream of self-sufficiency is realised one day, Kelly. Life is full of surprises. Andy started a whole new career as a teacher 2 years ago. He never thought his dream would ever happen, but it did.

      God bless!

    • Kari
    • January 30, 2013

    Sue- I could not agree more with all that you said. I DID know my passions in high school but I didn't pursue them in college because they did not seem practical enough. I didn't enjoy college and ended up changing my major so many times, I spent four years in classes I didn't care about and then decided to take some time off to figure out what I really wanted to do- though all the time I knew what I loved best. Anyway, I never did go back and get a degree, but God has been good enough to me to bless me with a life that allows me to enjoy my two passions (being with children and writing) each and everyday!

    I am trying to encourage my children to find their passions and the gifts God has given them and then pursue those no matter what others may say about them being impractical. They definitely know what they love and what they don't already so it should not be difficult, for as you say a laid-back (not quite unschooling for us) home school approach does allow them lots of time to try out new things and work on their personal projects. I hope my children will be as confident and joyful about pursuing their dreams as your beautiful daughters seem to be.

    Many Blessings, Kari

    1. Reply


      Was writing your high school passion? I always loved English at school but I didn't get enough free time to write what I wanted, like my girls do. I only wrote school essays. It's funny how we are both finally doing what we love best: mothering and writing!

      On the surface of it, I wasted my time at uni, and maybe you feel the same way about your college studies. However, we learn from all our experiences. Perhaps the biggest lesson we learnt is not to make the same mistakes with our own children!

      Parents – out of concern and love, I'm sure – sometimes pressure their children along a certain pathway, which might not be the right one for them. They end up in jobs they hate. It is so sad when they could have been doing something they enjoy instead.

      For many years Andy worked at a job he didn't enjoy. It was a source of money for our growing family so he didn't feel able to give up the job and risk something else. But a few years ago, God intervened and Andy was made redundant. He went back to university and was given a second chance at a more satisfying career. Now Andy loves his work. I think about this often and I encourage my children to aim for what they really love, rather than settle for a practical, safe and maybe tedious job.

      I have an interesting story about Callum, careers and his passions. He's been experimenting with jobs and study, and now knows exactly what he wants to do. I might write a post about it!

      You said your children know what they love. Are their passions the same as yours? I'd love to hear more.

      Thank you for your kind words about my daughters!

      So lovely to chat. God bless!

  2. Reply

    Great post. I actually posted something very similar a few days ago. I have a 8th grader that is passionate about art (mostly drawing and performing). Thanks good she is home educated and has lots of free time to pursue her passions.

    1. Reply


      I enjoyed visiting your blog and reading about your daughter and how you homeschool.

      I love seeing my children involved with things they are passionate about. Too often we insist our children complete the boring basics before they are allowed to go off and do the 'good stuff'. Art, drama, writing… whatever their interests might be… are just as, if not more, important. Aren't we fortunate? All that free time allows us and our children to get a real education!

      Thank you so much for stopping and saying hello.

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