Do you have a kid who has an unusual interest? We parents are constantly surrounded by kids who play hockey, do competitive dance or take horseback riding lessons. But how do you support your kiddo who has an unconventional hobby?
I have a daughter, who, for her 10th birthday, asked for a tackle box, her own tree and deer antlers. (It’s worth noting she got them all!) She is about to turn 15 years old, and on the list the year is a new pair of binoculars, the latest edition of the bird book she likes, and a North American bird themed deck of cards. I couldn’t make this up if I tried.
My daughter’s favourite activity is bird watching. This also includes taking part in bird banding activities. So how do I support my kid with a unique interest? I decided to check in with a couple of other mama friends who also have kids whose hobbies are outside the box. One friend has a kid who does competitive fencing,and the other has a kid who is the WORLD Pokémon champion. Yes, there is a world champion in the Pokémon game. It’s her kid. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
- Show an interest.
This can be difficult if your kid has an interest so far outside of what interests you. But a funny thing happens with parents – when our kids like, and are good at, something, we very naturally seem to get engaged with the activity as well. It’s important to learn about your child’s hobby so that they can tell you stories that you understand. You might feel like you’re learning a new language, but it’s worth the investment when your child excitedly tells you about the thing they are passionate about.
While encouraging our kids, you may need to also set some boundaries. When kids have an unusual interest, they may request to travel far and wide to be able to participate in some quirky activities. It is much more difficult to find neighbours to car pool with. I have to take my daughter bird banding an hour away from our house…it’s a far cry from driving to the local arena for a hockey game. Support your child’s interest while also understanding how demanding it might be on you and the family.
- Find a club.
Chances are, there are other young people also interested in the hobby your child has. You may not find these children at your kiddo’s school or in the neighbourhood, so you may have to widen your search. There are often clubs and groups of children with similar interests. Research this – it’s important that your kiddo finds their tribe and doesn’t feel like they’re the only one with their interest.
- Social issues.
Prepare your kiddo that some of their peers may not understand their interest, and indeed, make fun of it. Remind your child the value in being an individual with a unique interest. Marching to the beat of a different drum is the best pace to keep.
Do you have a child who you have to support through an unconventional hobby? What challenges and rewards are you experiencing?