I firmly believe that most parents want their children to have better lives than they did.
I have written before about my husband’s tough childhood and how joining the Air Force at age 17 probably saved his life. Certainly, it helped shape the amazing man he became.
When we first got married, we talked about what lessons we wanted to teach our children and how we hoped to raise them.
One aspect we both felt strongly about was helping them pursue their dreams and find their passions.
Our oldest son, now 20, tried pretty much every sport while growing up. Baseball, football, basketball, wakeboarding, golf and more. But none of them really took.
At 15, he tried kayaking. Bingo, that was it.
While he did fine in school, his life revolved around whitewater kayaking. He worked only to save money for his sport, which has included traveling all over our beautiful country, hiking and kayaking some of the most dangerous rivers.
He has seen sights most people will never see except in photographs.
How anybody thinks it is fun to hike up a 10,000-foot mountain with a 100-pound kayak on his back, only to paddle down the treacherous waters is beyond me, but he loves it.
Now in college, he is pursuing a degree with something involving the medical field. Not because he is passionate about that, but because he wants to work in a hospital with 12-hour shifts so he can have days off to go kayaking.
When our second child came home from her freshman year in college this past May, she was sad.
Her words were this: "Mom, I feel like I just wasted a year of my life. All I want to do is write songs, sing and play my guitar."
We had a five-hour heartfelt conversation at the kitchen table. After much discussion, we mapped out a plan.
She would work all summer or as long as it took for her to save enough money to buy a car and have extra money in the bank. Next, she would move to Nashville, Tenn., to pursue her dream.
When my husband came home and I told him, he gave her a big hug and said he was totally on board.
Some of our friends thought we had lost our minds. How could we possibly think she would make it in the music business?
We understand the odds are stacked against her. We know she is in for numerous disappointments. But I am incredibly proud of our daughter for taking such a risk to pursue her dreams at 19.
We told her when she gets knocked down, just get back up and brush off any dirt. We told her no matter what anybody says, we believe in her.
When she bought her own car (and paid for it with cash), I knew this was not the same child that we packed up and took to college the year before.
No, this was a determined, gutsy young woman who was heading off to begin her new life.
Our youngest two children have not yet discovered their passions, but I know they will.
I feel blessed to do all of the things I get to do and never feel like work is really work.
You are never too old to try new things and find out what your gifts are.
One of my favorite quotes by Henry David Thoreau is, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined."
Adlen Robinson is author of "Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home." E-mail her at email@example.com.