When I was a little girl, my parents allowed me the freedom to pursue my hobbies (which were pretty tame) so long as they didn’t interfere with schoolwork (Nothing really interfered with that. I was an autonomous kid.), but as far as encouraging them, well that’s another story altogether. Like I mentioned, my own hobbies were pretty tame. I really just liked to read, write and play netball. All of which you can imagine wasn’t too time-consuming. But what if I did have time-consuming hobbies? Would my parents have been as supportive? I hope so! My daughter won’t have to hope (I hope).
I clawed my way between the covers of every fat fiction novel I could find, (some thin ones too), kept a notebook where I wrote stories and plays/skits, and each season throughout high school trained like a beast and competed with my teammates for my school. My parents understood what I liked to do, and weren’t keen on interfering, but as an adult still finding my way, I can see what a difference encouraging those hobbies would have made.
What is a Hobby?
Before we dive into the meat of the matter, let’s talk about what hobbies are. The Oxford Languages definition is;
An activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.
“her hobbies are reading and gardening”
Hobbies can literally be anything. Some of us might even deign to say that sleeping is a hobby. Some commonplace hobbies are collecting items, participating in a sport or activity or pursuing artistic interests.
Pursuing hobbies makes us feel good, makes us happy. They are often more than leisure pastimes. Some people find lifelong passions and light for their souls in hobbies.
Unfortunately for some, hobbies are suppressed and dreams are killed for not being more than a ‘waste of time’ or not being realistic career options. I beg of us as millennial and Gen X parents to do differently as the norm. Hobbies may, in fact, not be options for careers, however as a parent taking that stance, how did you come by that conclusion? A few questions to help you self analyze are;
Is that the truth? Did you research any of it? Is the data backing your assertion? What do the future prospects say? Or, are you passing on your own feelings and opinions to the child? Did you really think about what it would be like to encourage their exploitation?
Maybe they will continue with it, maybe not. Either way, not only hobbies that equate to obvious big dollar signs ought to be supported. That’s another issue too, but that’s for another day.
Supporting vs Encouraging Hobbies
While they may sound like the same thing, they are not. Supporting your children looks like; observing an interest of theirs and simply allowing them the freedom to pursue it as they wish without interference. That’s good, but children have very limited views of the world. They haven’t seen much. They know what they like to do now, and some go as far as to envision it a career when they grow up. In a child’s mind, that’s a pretty long way off. As a parent, we know it’s not as far off as we’d like it to be! (LOL)
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Encouraging your child’s hobby looks different. It includes supporting them, however, once the child has found something they love, encouraging that hobby looks like, helping them to find the time to pursue their hobby more. Take an interest yourself, however basic. Better yet, let them teach you, or learn with them so you can bond about it. If it’s a craft, help them get better at it if you are any good.
So, How Do you Encourage Your Kids’ Hobbies?
Encouraging your child’s hobby should be a process. For them and for you. It’s okay to take some time with it.
1. Expose them.
Expose your child to a number of activities to feel out. so try not to chuck them into one without
2. Let them choose what they want to do.
Allow the child the autonomy to decide whether or not they want to continue with activity after enough time has passed for them to make up their mind. A hobby is a personal choice, so try not to make it for them based on what you think they should do. Of course, as the parent, you’ll guide them and do your diligence, but try not to decide for the child even after they have expressed or demonstrated that they aren’t interested. There are way too many activities your child can do saddle them with one they dislike because you like the idea for them.
3. Do it with them
When your child finds something they really like, encourage them by helping them with it and showing some interest. Whether you are a novice or have some experience in the activity. It’s a great way to bond and children jump at the chance to teach you about something they know. Plus, what better way to learn than to teach?
4. Invest in their success.
Invest in the child’s interest. Gifting them materials and resources needed to excel. Not just with monetary components, though. Help them find the time when you structure their routine to nurture their interest and/or craft.
5. Extracurricular Activities and Hobbies may be different.
While some hobbies may be extracurricular activities, not all of them will be. The same is true in reverse, not all extracurricular activities your child participates in will be a hobby.
Do you have hobbies? Did your parents encourage hobbies as a child? Let’s talk in the comments.
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