We’ve all watched some shows on TV which feature a talented child with a pushy parent. Sometimes the kid isn’t that talented at all. Or they are, but they’re not actually into what they’re doing. And this fact is either lost on the parent, or they hand-wave it away by saying that the kid will get there. The excuses are rhymed off as though by rote.”He’ll make so many friends playing the violin”
“She’ll have her choice of colleges if she sticks to tennis”
“I did pageants when I was their age and I loved it. They’ll get to that point.”
In truth, some kids with pushy parents go on to become stars in that chosen field. A lot more do not, and the resentment that this can feed goes both ways. The parent, angry that they have poured resources into this golden ticket to the stars. The offspring, distraught that the childhood years they could have spent with friends were wasted. The fact is that if you want your kid to be a success, it’s better that they grow up well-adjusted. Forcing interests on them will only make them stressed.
Now, if your child shows an interest or a talent, there are ways to encourage it and to see that they have a chance to succeed. You do have to make sure you don’t become one of “those” parents, but you can be supportive.
Encouraging A Child’s Interest Sensibly.
We all remember the things we were obsessed by as kids. Maybe we loved music and whiled away hours singing and dancing. Maybe we were sporty and when we weren’t kicking or hitting a ball (for example), we were watching our idols doing likewise. More unlikely, but also possible, is that we loved politics and read the newspaper from cover to cover. Although you may not want to encourage anyone to take up a career in politics.
But when your kid shows an interest in something, give them the chance to make it a focus. Even if they’re not going to one day bring home gold medals, the interest could inform a later career in broadcasting. If they’re always doing handstands and idolise great gymnasts, make it a part of their everyday life.
You can do this by buying them posters and going to events with them. You can also make a display for their wall – pictures cut out of magazines juxtaposed with those of your child playing. A few sheets of card, some glue and some ribbons or tin foil can make the whole thing stand out. Sit with your kids and help them make what they want. A couple of cordless glue guns from Glue Guns Direct – and some instructions on their safe use! – can make a fun evening with your kid.
Teach Them The Importance Of Perspective
All of us grew up admiring or even idolising stars of one kind or another. We learned words to their songs by heart. We could name the trophies they won, we could tell you their date and place of birth. And in many cases we wanted to be them. But as we all know, watching them and wanting to be like them is one thing. The reason that they were on TV is because they were one in a million.
Your child may or may not be successful in the field they are enthralled by. It is only the few that manage to be. But if they are going to have disappointments – and even the best fall sometimes – you need to give them the message that that’s OK. Whether they win or lose, whether they have a career in the field or not, dignity and grace are important.
Leonardo di Caprio was in countless films before he won an Oscar. Ryan Giggs never played in a World Cup. JK Rowling could have papered her living room in the rejection letters she got before a publisher picked up on Harry Potter. There will be disappointments. There will be occasional tantrums, in all likelihood. But each disappointment carries a chance to learn, as does each victory.
The first role model your kid really has isn’t the singer, the footballer or the Prime Minister. The first role model they have is you. You’re the one who will teach them that it’s OK to fail, it’s important to try again and that success is never guaranteed nor owed to them. Give them the chance to dream big, and don’t be an anchor to that. Be a safety net. Because whatever they grow up to be, you can still be proud.
***This is a General post***