My husband and I often say that we’re going to take our daughter, find what she’s good at and exploit that skill until she’s made us so wealthy we can afford to retire from our jobs and do whatever we feel like doing.
Clearly, we’re kidding. We’re not that cruel.
But underneath the joking, there is a valid point (I swear. Stick with me for a few more sentences and I’ll get to it). We want to encourage our daughter to explore and find what she’s good at because, in the long run, you never know how it can pay off.
For instance, my sister has been a dancer for most of her life. She was on her college’s dance team, she’s found part-time jobs teaching dance and now, she hopes to combine her love of dance with a graduate degree and create a full-time job. Yes, our parents spent money on costumes, lessons, and everything that goes with it, but a passion and a talent have turned into a potential career. Which means that the money spent will pay for itself in the long run. So I figure, why can’t I do that with my daughter?
At this point, she’s only 5 ½ but she’s already demonstrating a love and an aptitude for swimming. For a kid who was afraid of water up until a year ago, she has taken to water like, well, a fish. She loves to swim (in fact, I’d say 75% of my summer was spent at a pool) and she’s actually quite good at it (which, incidentally, works out well because she wants to be a mermaid when she grows up). We’re okay with this as an activity because a) of the sports, it’s one of the healthier ones ; b) it’s less expensive than many of the other activities she could have chosen; and c) it’s a life skill. As a bonus, my husband and I both love swimming so it’s something we can actually help her with (as opposed to something like gymnastics or dance or ).
Everyone wins. Especially my daughter’s bank account.
We figure that, on top of swimming being a great, healthy exercise, it’s something she can possibly use for her financial gain in the following ways:
- College scholarships. Many schools have swim teams, and many schools will pay their athletes to attend the school on a swimming scholarship. Assuming she remains as interested in swimming as she is now, and she develops her skills enough (which I believe she will. She wants join a “practice” team once she’s 6), there is a chance that she could obtain a scholarship to swim for a college. This means a few things: we get tuition help, she won’t have to take out loans, and she’ll get a really awesome opportunity to participate on a college team.
- Summer jobs. And jobs during the school year. Her swim lessons are taught by college students, many of whom also double as lifeguards at our pool during the summer. This is a fantastic way for her to have a job doing something that she would be doing anyway—swimming. I’m not sure how much lifeguarding pays because it’s not something that I ever had the desire to do but for high schooler or college aged kid, the money is probably nothing to sneeze at. Having this kind of job will teach her responsibility, first aid, what it feels like to earn a paycheck and she’ll probably have fun. So that all works out well.
- Entrepreneurial skills. Following in her aunt’s footsteps, there’s a chance that she can use her love of swimming into her own business. The soft skills that she learns from swimming like setting goals, showing up on time, self-discipline and hard work, working with other people to achieve an outcome, are essential to every entrepreneur. And, with her love of water, she can be a freelance swim instructor, open her own kid-friendly swim academy, do water therapy (I’m not even sure if that’s real) or a variety of other jobs that will a) pay the rent and b) give her income.
Of course, these grand plans are entirely contingent on her keeping up her love of swimming. Quite frankly, I’m not going to force her to do any activity she doesn’t enjoy regardless of the financial impact it might have on her in the future. I’d rather be broke than have my kid resent me for making participate in something she hates.