How many parents want their children to be doctors, or lawyers, or world-renowned scientists? Probably every parent. They want that so much that they could end up discouraging their children from what they really want to do.

Throughout my childhood, I wanted to be many different things, from an artist, to an explorer, to a physicist, to a teacher. And, here’s the thing: only one of those careers would be supported by a large number of parents. Can you guess which one it is?

I have firsthand experience with what I’m talking about. When I was in fourth or fifth grade, I thought, “I want to be a teacher.” So I told my parents, and, while my dad was perfectly fine with it, my mom’s answer was a straight up “No.”  How did you think it felt to have a dream, a goal, shot down? Not very good.

Before this, in third grade, I wrote my first story and self-published it. It was titled “Unihorn’s Adventures.” A cute little children’s story… but that one little story led to so much more.

As I entered middle school, I started writing more. Short stories became my specialty. I even entered one into a contest and got in the top thirty out of hundreds of entries in my category. But, thanks to my mom, my real dream was put on pause in my seventh grade year.

I was taking life science in seventh grade, and became so interested in human biology. My mom used that interest, along with her dream of being a doctor, and, suddenly, I was saying, “I want to be a neurosurgeon.”

Then came eighth grade. The year that would ultimately change my life and my fate. I started wondering if I should be a neuroscientist instead of a neurosurgeon. Then, when we were writing thesis papers in English class, I offered to help my friend edit hers. And she said to me the day after I helped her edit, “It was like having an English professor.” Something clicked right then. I spent the next two periods thinking, “I do love English, and writing, of course. I want to open a nonprofit organization to teach reading and writing…  and I do want to be some sort of a professor… but I want to be a neurosurgeon, or neuroscientist…right?” At lunchtime, I said to my friend, “I want to be an English professor and an author.” Just like that, because of her little comment… my life changed.

I started looking for newspapers to submit op-eds to, for virtual writing internships… that’s how I found The Mindful Word. I searched fiercely, and even started writing a novel. I was determined to change the destiny my mom had set for me and show her what I really wanted to be… but I didn’t have the guts to tell her.

One morning, after I had been looking for virtual writing internships, as had been the usual for a little while, my mom told me to stop always looking for those things. She said I was losing focus of my path and that there weren’t many writing opportunities out there for a career. She said that maybe I could write for a newspaper on the side when I was older. Then she made the most unbelievable comment that I will never forget: “If you want to contribute to society, be a doctor or a scientist.”

I haven’t given up on my dream. If anything, I’ve decided that what I really want to be is an English professor, and being a published author would be an amazing, miraculous addition. Parents, don’t make the same mistake my mother did. Unless your child wants to be something dangerous, unlawful, unhealthy, et cetera… support them. My bond with my mother can never be the same because of her not supporting me. If you do not support your child’s dream and they follow the path you set for them, they can never be truly happy. If you do not support them, and they go on the path they set for themselves, and you shut them out because of it, they can never be truly happy, either. Support is a huge part of love, so, without support, where’s the love?

We will all travel down paths in life, whether they be rocky, steep or they cross a river. However it will be, do not put your child down your path because we can never travel exactly in the footprints made before us. We all eventually branch off to our own path. Support your children’s dreams, to maintain the love, to maintain their happiness… so that they can go down their own path.