I graduated high school as the valedictorian and I performed very well in the sports I played. Of course I would want him to have my interests, but I do not expect him to. I do want him to be mentally capable and I for sure want to know how to help his development to surpass me as soon as possible.
It's tricky. You were obviously motivated. What you might be asking yourself is whether that motivation actually lead you to do the great things in life you once dreamed of, or whether it caused you to follow some other path or dream.
I'd say the best thing you can do is to make sure you share your curiosity with your child, or if that seems to have faded, share his curiosity with him. When he wants to rip something apart to figure how it works, be there with him. When an appliance breaks, take it to pieces with him. Always wonder, always talk to him like he can understand everything, because at some level he can. Amazingly, there are concepts of calculus/statistics/geometry we can understand without knowing our times tables.
Just get interested. And if money or access is an issue, that's great, because then you have to become creative. One of my sons is into archery and knife throwing. We got on youtube and found some ideas for targets and made our own, one out of corrugated cardboard boxes, the other out of scrap lumber.
Another asked about twins, and I pulled out my old Animal Reproduction textbook (my B.S. is in Animal Science) and we got to look at fertilization, implantation, etc.
Now that my kids are almost all teenagers, the one thing I wish I'd spent more time on is getting them to develop mastery in something. It's what caused me to look at Sal Kahn's Ted video above. There are kids who are at the top of their game by the time they are 16. Just look at the Olympics. And how many world class musicians started as kids? They liked something, they practiced. They got that getting good was fun, and made them better people.
On the one hand, pushing doesn't help. On the other, giving the space so they can take what they like and really play full out is amazing. Sometimes it's hard not to push though. You see something your kid is good at, you'll say “Wow. This is it.” All of a sudden you've pushed a bit too hard, and he won't touch it again, ever.
Oh and read Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting.
And trust yourself. Just by asking this question, you have ensured that he will be, because you are interested enough and committed enough to make sure it will happen.
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