Passion Parenting:: Helping Your Child Explore Their Interests

Do you remember what you wanted to be as a kid? Maybe it was a princess, an astronaut, or a veterinarian. Or maybe a cowboy, athlete, or a firefighter. I remember wanting to be a whale when I was 4. Whatever it was, we all had dreams and interests as kids. However, few of us grow up to be what we were convinced we would be when we were 5, 8, or even a teenager.

Growing up changes us and our interests, and the understanding comes that no matter how much we wish it, we will never be a whale. I wonder what it would have been like to commit to a future at the age of 3. How would my parents have responded? How would they have fostered our passion?

When Your Child Loves Something Fiercely  

I ask this because my son, at 3, declared that he would be a paleontologist. At first, I smiled and said, “how cute,” because what kid does not go through the dinosaur stage. We bought the dinosaurs, {a lot of them}, books, fake fossils, did the dinosaur parties, and costumes. I thought the interest would fade, and new things would take over. I was wrong to assume this, and I no longer wonder how a parent can help foster their child’s interest, because I live that life.Passion Parenting:: Helping Your Child Explore Their Interests

Our son is now 8 and still determined to be a paleontologist. He has spoken to a paleontologist and knows the best universities to attend for his undergraduate, masters, and Ph.D. and he is literally planning college as he wraps up 2nd grade. In Kindergarten he built a volcano {by himself} to show how lava could have killed the dinosaurs. He collects rocks and categorizes them. The obsession is not waning, it is growing, but so is my part in helping him discover, learn, and embrace his passion.

Passion Parenting:: Helping Your Child Explore Their Interests

As parents our words and actions can impact his dreams, so we have committed to doing everything we can, within reason, to nurture his passion. It can be daunting, but the flipside of pouring into your child who has a deep passion, is seeing smiles that lights up their face, watching them read beyond their level because it interests them, and knowing your child knows, you are there to cheer them on.

Tips to Help Your Child Explore Their Interests

Encourage them to talk about their interests.

Whether in the car, at the table, at bedtime, or taking a walk, use whatever time you can to ask your child questions about their interests. Encourage them to teach what they know and let them lead the conversation. The best conversations I have with my son are the ones where I encourage him to tell me something he has learned about dinosaurs. His face lights up because I have made his interest the center of the conversation and have praised him for teaching me something.

Encouraging your children to talk about their interests and letting them lead the conversation fosters the confidence to express themselves. This improves their conversation skills, which is important for their future, and shows them they can come to you, and you will listen when they talk. It is not just about their interest, but about their future and showing them it is important to you.

Find the resources and opportunities to cultivate their passion.

My husband and I have talked to paleontologists and geologists to provide our son with resources to help him further explore his passion. We have found that streaming services have an abundance of documentaries that enthrall him. We have also found great success in letting him pick the books he wants to read about dinosaurs and paleontology. Summer camps are great resources as many are targeted for specific interests. Here is a link to camps in the Houston area, our 2021 Ultimate Guide to Summer Camps in Houston.

Another great way to explore your child’s interests is to plan day trips or vacations around their interests. This summer, we are taking our son to South Dakota for our family vacation. We will visit a dig site, the wooly mammoth site, museums, and even go camping near a fossil site. While this is not exactly how I would prefer to spend my time off, I know my opportunities to experience his interests are shrinking as he grows, so I want him to see us enjoying what he loves and for him to see me enjoy it as well.

Passion Parenting:: Helping Your Child Explore Their Interests

Let them see you enjoy their interests too {even if you don’t}

I have no interests in dinosaurs, digging in the dirt, or much that concerns my son’s passion, but he would never know that. His passion, what he loves, and my response to it, is to bring him affirmation and joy. So, I play dinosaur battle, watch the never-ending loop of Camp Cretaceous on Netflix, and I lovingly hold his rocks and fossils when he places them in my hand or my purse. I read the books and learn to pronounce dinosaur names and sit in the car for hours to take him through a robotic dinosaur drive through. And I do it all, making sure my son sees me smile.

I want him to see that loving something so much and with great passion is good. While he laments, almost daily, that no one loves dinosaurs as he does, I encourage him to love them as much as he wants. When the school library runs out of dinosaur books he can check out, I ensure he has a stack he can take to school. And when the dinosaur podcast I Know Dino has a new episode, I act just as excited as he is as I press play. Because doing all of that, allows him to see I support his dreams.

The Why of It

While I have no idea if my son will grow up to be a paleontologist who discovers the newest dinosaur in Antarctica {his actual goal}, I want to do everything I can to encourage him in it. For parents, one of the most powerful things we can do is recognize and pour into our children’s strengths and passions and walk alongside them on the journey of discovering them.

So, I walk hand in hand with my mini paleontologist as he saves his money for a Jeep because that is what paleontologists drive, designs his future wardrobe {picture Alan Grant from Jurassic World}, asks to go to the local rock shop {he has a frequent customer card}, and say yes, it is fine as his aunt paints a giant T-Rex on his bedroom wall. I do it all because one day he will go out into the world and blaze his trail and I want him to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am with him every step of the way, big smile and all!


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Whitney Peper
Whitney P. was raised in the Houston area, the third oldest of six children. After high school she attended and graduated from Texas A&M earning a degree in Communications and Political Science where she met her husband Tim. After college, Whitney worked as the Communications Director for a private school in Austin before returning to Houston in 2008 to work as a corporate fundraiser for non-profits before her the call into ordained ministry. Whitney resides in Katy and is an Associate Pastor at St. Peter’s UMC overseeing Care and Special Needs ministries. Whitney and Tim adopted their first child Jase {March 2013} in 2013, and he is living his best dinosaur loving life. Besides her work and family, Whitney’s greatest passions are reading, discussing and celebrating anything related to Harry Potter, traveling near and far, and training for half-marathons. Whitney has a personal blogOur Color Filled Life.


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