I will encourage my child to find a marriage between following their passion and doing something that won't doom them to struggle financially forever. It is possible to pursue a passion as a major hobby and find something that you still enjoy (but may not be THE thing that makes your world go round) as a career.I also won't encourage college as a must-have. Ironic since I'm a professor. But a college degree is the biggest investment a young person will make, and there are good investments and bad investments. I chose a career that is a strong interest of mine and pays the bills. DH chose a degree that was not so useful and didn't get a job in his field. When we married, he brought defaulted loans, bad credit, and $25,000 to repay for a degree he'll never use into our marriage.The US sells too many students a bad investment. Student loan debt has eclipsed all credit card debt in the US. Forget the housing market. Student loans will be the next big bubble to burst--and with good reason.
Yes but I do want them to be practical about it. I majored in music performance as an undergrad - definitely followed my passion there and I don't regret it for a minute. I learned a lot of useful soft skills by studying music from such an early age - things like working through a problem (or musical passage) that seems overwhelmingly difficult by breaking it down into manageable parts, I learned to persevere through frustrating plateaus in order to progress, I learned discipline and how to self-motivate myself by practicing regularly even though I might not be in the mood for it. Also, since I was pretty good at it, it gave me opportunities for travel, and exposed me to a lot of different types of people from many other cultures that I never would have met otherwise at that age. I did a lot of auditions and competitions which helped me learn how to deal with failure as well as keep me motivated by my successes. All of these things have helped me in both my academic pursuits as well as my career, and have made me a more well-rounded and interesting person. There is nothing more dull than someone with no passion in life. Also, music is still a huge part of my life even though it is not my career. I play daily, it is a huge emotional outlet for me, and in times when money was tight all through grad school, I taught lessons at $50/hr and I plan to teach again someday after I retire from my current field. I loved it. (teaching also taught me a lot)
That being said - I do want them to be practical. The only reason I could do this was because I did not have to take out loans for my undergraduate degree. And, the deal I had with my father was that he would pay for school (public university) but I had to have a backup plan other than music. So, as a backup plan, I minored in Math (which I also loved). When at age 25 I decided I needed a career other than teaching music lessons, this backup plan helped me get into graduate school and get a masters in Engineering / hydrology, which is my current career field. I fully credit some of those soft skills with giving me what it took to change career fields and get through a very difficult and intimidating grad school program.
So, yes, I think following a passion can be extremely educational. A lot of the soft skills I learned with my music could be learned in a lot of other activities - sports, dance, art, dog training, knitting - almost anything really. So I definitely want them to find and follow a passion. But I want them to be wise about it, have realistic expectations, and not get into debt $100,000 following a dream of being the next superstar fire-juggler or something. If they tell me they want to major in something like ancient greek poetry - I want to make sure they are not going to be crippled by debt (we will be able to pay for a substantial portion of college costs, but probably not at a private school) and to really understand what their opportunities are in the field and to have a plan for how they will either use this skill in the real world or to have some sort of backup plan.
Sorry that was so long. I have a lot of feels about this topic