As a parent I’m sure you try to be as supportive and encouraging as possible in everything your child does. Even though you know not everything they want to do is a good fit for them, you stay quiet and let them go after what makes them happy. For example, allowing them to go out for the basketball team when they stand four foot one, paying for voice lessons when they couldn’t carry a tune if their life depended on it, or letting them take ballet even though they are not the most coordinated. Even though the odds are against them you still hold hope in your heart that they will succeed in what they try because it makes them happy. What happens to this support and encouragement after the elementary years are gone though? Are teens or young adults not allotted the ability to go after our dreams now because it’s time for us to “grow up”? Growing up doesn’t mean settling; but that is the message you are sending to your kids when you beat down their dreams or what they want to do in their life.
I have a close friend whose situation is what ultimately inspired me to write this article. Two months ago I was packing my suitcase. In just two days I would be on the road heading toward Pittsburg to try out for the famed singing competition “American Idol”. A good friend of mine is also a country singer like me. She is insanely talented so of course when the auditions rolled around I tried to coax her into going. We both knew though that persuading her wasn’t the problem. Being a minor, she had to convince her mother to let her try out, which we both knew wouldn’t be an easy challenge. This particular friend of mine has entered countless singing contests, school talents shows, and even has a YouTube account to promote her voice. None of which her mother supports. If she doesn’t place first in a singing contest her mother uses it as an opportunity to tell her that she will never have a career in singing even though she is good at it. That it is not a realistic goal. That she should figure out something else to do with her life. I understand where she is coming from I suppose. She doesn’t want her daughter to waste her time as a struggling musician with no guarantee she will make it. She wants her to be secure in life, which I totally get. I can’t understand, though, why she never keeps quiet long enough to listen to her daughter. My friend once told me that she sings because it takes her away from everything. She isn’t stressed or mad, she is just herself; that she is her happiest when she is singing. So even with the odds against her, if that isn’t a reason to support your child I don’t know what is.
A parent’s job is to protect their kids. You’ve protected them all their life. I get it, old habits die hard. You want to protect them from what you feel is an unsecure future. Sometimes, though, all you can do is pick them up when they fall. Or else they could resent you or cut you out of their life completely if you prevent or discourage them from doing what makes them happy. I’m not telling you to give them false hope. Even if you don’t encourage their choices, be sure you don’t discourage either. You could simply tell them while you may not always see the best future for them in what they want to do, that you are behind them 100 percent and that your support and encouragement will never be off limits to them. That your love remains unconditional and you accept whatever decisions they make in life. Parents always tell their children all they want for them is to be healthy and happy. If that is really the truth, you should have no trouble supporting what makes them happy.
We teenagers have a way of misinterpreting things. If someone told me to not be a writer and to “grow up” I would think they were telling me to settle for something that doesn’t make me as happy as writing. I wouldn’t be on my way to a great career in writing right now if my parents didn’t believe and support me in everything I did. Even two months ago when I wanted to try out for American Idol, they both knew that the chances of making it out of all those people are slim for even the best singers. Did they destroy my confidence though and refuse to take me? No. They supported what I wanted to do and drove me seven hours and allowed me to take a shot at one of the dreams I’ve always had. Of course I was a little upset when my American Idol dream was crushed as I didn’t get past all three rounds; but I’m glad they let me try it for myself. If they didn’t allow me to I would have always wondered what could have been. They picked me up and dusted me off, because that is what parents do when you can’t protect your kids from everything anymore.
In conclusion, one of the most important things you can do for your child is to support them in their decisions, especially when it comes to their future. You don’t have to always agree with them, or even like most of them. You do have to support them though. Without doing that it could lead to resentment, distance between you and your kids, or worst of all, your child being left unhappy and unfulfilled. Someone once said, one of the saddest things in life is wasted talent, and I honestly believe that. So love your kids, support them, and pick them when they fall; and that’s all anyone can ask for.
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