Repeatedly I hear parents tell their children “You can be anything you want to be if you set your mind to it”. We also see this concept promoted in the movies and T.V. shows. Frequently we see accomplishments of people with disabilities making a success of their lives against all odds. Paraplegics painting with a brush held in their mouths, marathons run by someone with prosthetics for legs, five year olds singing opera, etc. These are gifted people with talents and/or determination beyond the average kids growing up in homes too poor to send one of their offspring to Juliard or acquire the funds for futuristic artificial limbs that allow them to walk, let alone train for marathons. The ones that have no particular talents – or – the support needed to persevere (alcoholic parents, lethargic mothers burdened down by everyday struggles or parents who are still laboring to overcome poverty and adversity from their own pasts).
This is where the correct encouragement needs to be present for a child to reach his/her own potential – not false expectations. What happens to the child who has been told all his/her short life that she/he is destined to become the greatest singer on “America has talent” only to be crushed when during trials he/she hears “Go home, you can’t carry a tune”? Or the would be artist who’s parents have paid a fortune out of necessary family income for art lessons with years spent in Paris only to return home with nothing to show for it but disappointment.
How about we practice honesty with our kids and encourage the abilities they do have with practical expectations – the gifted ones will come through with their talents – they will be selected by teachers all along. They will win the marathons and contests as they are recognized and all the rest of them will do a superior job at just doing what they choose to do and are capable of – those of us who support our nation with integrity and consistent effort.
I am not suggesting that parents discourage a child but I do believe that we are putting our children on pedestals with false expectations to succeed in areas they have not chosen.
I say “Support them in their journey of growing up and let them be kids while they’re doing it”. You may not agree with me and that is o.k. it’s just my opinion.