Saturday, 24 November 2012

Preparing Our Children For Rejection

We all think so highly of our children. I know that before I was a mum I would criticise parents who blew their child's trumpet. There's nothing worse when you are sitting in a toddler group with a bunch of overly competitive mothers (or fathers) going on and on about how little Johnny was blinking when he needed the potty at 4 months old or how little Mary had a 1000 word vocabulary by her first birthday. I have to admit it though, I do it too. I often catch myself too late. The words are often out my mouth before I realise how boastful I sound!

Now I'm not saying that it is wrong to think your children are wonderful or to have high aspirations for them in life but I do think that there is a danger area which may lead to disappointment for our children when they are older.

When I was a child my parents thought I was going to be famous. I had a really nice singing voice and was very dramatic, in more ways than one! I was encouraged and told I was wonderful from the day and hour I was born.They ploughed money into musical activities as they knew it was a passion of mine. My Mum and Dad were realistic though. They prepared me for failure as well as success by emphasising the need for an education first and supporting me during the inevitable suffering of auditions. I was lucky to be picked for a few main roles in musical theatre and school plays early on which boosted my confidence but the first audition that I was told 'thanks but no thanks', I was devastated. My parents had a knack for keeping my dreams harnessed in reality. It must have been even harder for them to watch their daughter, who they viewed to be extremely talented and gifted to be told she wasn't good enough. They never let it show. Not once did I feel like I was a disappointment to them but equally they never let me feel like I should be automatically entitled to anything. They instilled in me a quiet, humbled confidence and plenty of resilience.

I saw this news story the other day about a parent who is 'priming' her daughter for success. She spends thousands of pounds on her grooming and classes to prepare her for fame. After reading the article I felt sad for the little girl. Nothing is life is guaranteed and I've seen so many talented and hard working people who just haven't made it. Isn't this potentially setting this child up to be disappointed and to feel like she is a failure to her mother?

I think the Xfactor culture doesn't help matters. The celebrity culture from reality TV is now what children aspire to. More and more when I ask kids in my class 'what do you want to be when you grow up?' The answer is famous.In schools, when auditions are held for performances, what I've seen in the past few years is really eye opening. From children crying and telling you sad stories (like they do on Xfactor) in an attempt to sway a decision to their parents phoning after the decision, outraged that their child hasn't got a part or didn't get the 'right' part.

In the real world, if you don't get a job you can't go crying in the interview to make them choose you or get your mum to phone the Manager to complain that you are better skilled than someone else who applied. So what message are we giving to our children about handling rejections?

So now I'm going to boast about my child . . .

JC is already showing an interest in music. He has no choice really, he is surrounded by instruments in our house and already has his own mini acoustic guitar, drum kit and Santa is bringing him a keyboard for Christmas. He has great tuning and already sings lots of songs from memory. He is a handsome chap and shows early signs of being creative and outgoing. He's a Leo star sign which if you believe in astrology is the perfect sign for an entertainer! I think John Connor/JC is a fab name for a musician. So I really should start looking into stage schools now.

I'm being sarcastic obviously! Seriously though, I hope that like my parents did for me, I can support and encourage him to do whatever he wants do. I will provide him with the opportunities to learn and develop his skills in whatever area interests him. I want to teach him to follow his dreams and be optimistic as well as realistic. I will be there to support him when he does experience rejection and help him to try again. My greatest dream for him is that he is a kind, happy and well rounded adult. If he can achieve this in life, I will feel like I've done a good job.

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