If you can’t give your child what she wants,
you can give it to her in a wish.
For instance, if she tells you she wants her own horse (yet you live in an apartment and don’t have the funds or lifestyle to support a horse), you don’t need to crush the vision with practicalities. Instead, give it to her in a wishful fantasy.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to own a horse? What would you name it? Where would you ride it? What would it look like? Do you know what type of horse you’d want to own? Shall we look them up online? Would you want to show the horse in competitions? Ride the horse over jumps? Learn dressage? Or would you prefer to ride bareback over hills alone, looking at the sunset?
Of course you don’t simply shoot questions at her as if pulling the trigger to a BB gun. You want to give her the chance to live her fantasy with you for a little emotional vacation. Let her describe the horse’s mane and color, where she would ride, how she would care for the horse, why a horse would be such a dear companion at this stage in her life.
If possible, assist the fantasy with practical possibilities even if they fall short of the ultimate fantasy:
- Maybe we can ride horses at the local stable this month.
- How about we check out some good old films about horses and watch those over the next week?
- Let’s pick a horse to follow in the upcoming series of horse races and get to know its life story.
- I know there’s a saddle shop in town. Maybe we can learn how they are made, feel the smooth leather with our hands, and ask about local horseback riding while we’re there.
- I wonder if we can take a family vacation to a dude ranch one year.
- Our homeschool group may have a family with a horse we can visit. Let’s ask.
The thing about kids is that they enjoy possibilities far more than we do. They aren’t jaded, haven’t had their dreams dashed, don’t manage the checkbook, aren’t limited in their energy. There’s no need to “smack down a dream” before it has a chance to emerge. Give it some breathing room—allow it to manifest in conversation, illustrations, reading, narration, writing, and play. Then find the little pieces of the fantasy that you can support/provide, and find a way to incorporate these into your child’s life.
Sometimes magic happens and the little bit of wind you blow into those sails leads to the fulfillment of the bigger dream, too. Kids have a way of conjuring wonderfulness from nothing, which is one of the reasons we love having them in our lives.
Wishful thinking is a gift, not a thing to be disparaged.