Should we encourage kids to have realistic job ambitions?

Reach for the reality?
Reach for the reality? Photo: Shutterstock

When you're a child, the sky's the limit.

You are not bogged down with the realities of adult life. You don't pay bills. You don't pay the mortgage. You're not plagued with insecurities. You haven't yet been beaten down by the system.

You are not yet acutely aware of gender inequality or uneven playing fields. You don't worry about your shortcomings or the gaps in your CV.

You are invincible. Anything is possible.

And when you imagine what you're going to be when you grow up – you're options are endless.

You do not dream of being an accountant.

You still have stars in your eyes and unrealistic expectations, unlike your bitter, worn down parents.

So, when I read about the Durrington Junior School in Wiltshire, UK, which sent a note home to parents informing them that kids were not allowed to dress as their dream careers on My World of Work Day, but instead to chose a costume that reflects 'Plan B', I gasped.

"We know that some children would love to be professional sports people or pop stars or famous YouTubers in the future. These are great ambitions but so hard to achieve! Because of this, on this occasion we're not allowing these dress-up choices – instead, we'd like children to think of their 'Plan B choices for future jobs," the letter read.


Forget about going for gold, just go for bronze – it's way easier.

C'mon. If I had the opportunity to be anyone I wanted for the day I would not come as a 44-year-old, overweight mum of three who lives freelance job-to-freelance job, who silently whispers 'please let there be money in the account' every time I swipe my credit card at the supermarket check-out.

I'd come as someone way thinner, way cooler, way smarter and way richer. Even Mariah Carey would do.

Aside from the obvious outcry from actual sporting stars and celebrities who urged parents to tell their kids "anything is possible" (like that's an actual reality), most 'plan B' people found the idea absurd.

Of course, there were the realists who said it was a splendid idea kids hopes and dreams got cut-down at an early age, but stuff them. There's plenty of time for kids to grow up and be realists.

As soon as they grow older this dreamer period will be snatched away from them. They will be worn down by the system. For now, let them still believe, albeit naively, that anything is possible.

This is even more pertinent for the kids who are struggling under the weight of their less-than sheltered home life.

They already watch their parent or carer dragged under by the day-to-day. For these kids, school is often a safe haven. For them, it's the only place they can wish for a way out – dream of what seems like the impossible. For one day a year they can pretend they're not hungry or lonely or scared. For one day, they can hope for a better future, pretend to be someone they're not.

Why not let kids keep dreaming?

Why even have a 'plan B' at all? There's plenty of time to be worrying about 'plan B' or 'plan C' or even 'plan D'.

For now, embrace and celebrate the time of life where kids still think it possible they can be anything they desire. Let them spend the day dreaming.