OK - I am getting old. I had a "The problem with 20-somethings and kids these days is. . " thought, so although my body is 38 I think in my head I am 91. Well - here goes my rant of the day.
Last night I was watching American Idol with my kids. We, as a family, like the show and the early trials with the really bad singers in it is our favorite part. There was one girl that jumped out at me - but not for her voice. Well, maybe it was in part because of her voice, but the entire situation jumped out at me and I had the, "this is what is wrong with this next generation."
This girl was one of a set of twins. Her twin sister didn't sing, but she did. She used singing to set herself apart from her twin. I get that, I have twins and I could see a need to define yourself in that situation. Her twin was with her and said she was an amazing singer. Her mother was with her, all proud, and talked about what a beautiful singer she was. This girl was a college student and was majoring in musical theater - so this girl has sang in public before. I mean - if she was in college and majoring in this she would have to be good, right?
So this girl struts into the audition room, all confident and supreme, and began to sing. Wow. She had confidence behind it. She had volume behind it. Unfortunately, her talents did not match her self-esteem and confidence. And by not match I am not insinuating that she was an OK singer who thought she was great - no - she was a HORRIBLE singer. HORRIBLE. Like I am surprised my dog didn't howl when she was singing, and my kids didn't start crying. She was BAD.
Obviously she didn't make it on to Hollywood. Afterwards they show her talking to her mom and sister and they were supporting her, "You are a great singer honey, they just don't know what they are doing," and "They must have something wrong with their hearing or something because they don't know talent when they see it." So I am watching this and it hit me - in this girl's 20 years of life - and in her one or two years in college studying musical theater and how many other plays and musical things this girl had done - no one had ever told this girl that she sucked. No one. . .
And it even gets worse than that, because I could see not wanting to hurt someones feelings by saying, "Man, you suck!" No, not only did they not tell her she stinks but they supported her belief that she could go off and make a living with this horrible voice. Her mother and sister where there telling her how wonderful of a singer she is. Her parents were paying how many thousands of dollars a year to send her off to college to major in musical theater. WTF? Why would you do that to your child? Do you want to just set them up to fail?
OK - maybe I am an old school parent. We generally don't lie to our kids. I will support them in what they love and want to do, but I am not going to lie to them and tell them they can go off and do something that they can't do. My Evelyn loves to sing - she sings with all her heart and I love to hear her sing - I even put her in musical theater because she is so dramatic and loves singing - but she sucks. She will never make a living out of singing - and to be honest I have told her that. She is a great writer - I could see her writing songs for someone - but she can't sing - she is tone deaf. . . it isn't going to happen. I have also said, "If you love it keep doing it, keep working on it, do your best to get better, but don't count on doing that for a living." So, she plans to be an orthodontist who in her spare time acts in plays. . . .realistic. . . .
I think everyone is so afraid of "hurting their child's spirit" that they take realistic out of the picture. Everyone gets a trophy for trying. Support your kids in doing what they love, even if you see their talent doesn't match their love for it. Now, we have a generation who graduates college and thinks they should be able to walk into being the CEO of a company. You have people with college degrees in things they honestly suck at (it isn't hard to get good grades in college if you pay attention and do the work.)
Be realistic with your kid. Go both ways. If your kid loves football - still encourage them to play with all their heart. If he doesn't make the team - practice and support the team any way he/she can - but more than likely this kid will net be the next Payton Manning. . . . know that and make sure they are realistic about it as well. It is a heard balancing act - to support your kids dreams and give them drive, yet to keep them realistic, but you have to do it. You are their parent. If you don't do it I can assure you the world certainly will - and the world won't be as nice about it as you will be. . .