There was a story in the news about a six year old girl retiring from the pageant circuit. Her Mother, also her manager, has much bigger show business plans for her young daughter.
The reaction from the public is disgust with this Mother for what she is putting her child through. She is being accused of robbing her little girl of her childhood. People don’t like the little girl’s make-up, suggestive dance moves and overall appearance. Many say that this Mother is living through her child.
I think people bring up some valid points but I want to throw something else out there to think about…
I see examples of parents living vicariously through their children every day.
What about the toddler who is enrolled in an exclusive preschool so that he or she can be programmed for success. The child already has his or her entire educational life mapped out including the most prestigious private schools, tutors, after school activities etc…Every minute of every day is structured and planned. There is NO time allocated for just being a kid. Daddy and Mommy want to say one day, “My child is an honor student at one of the top colleges in the nation.”
What about the child whose Daddy never made it to the Big Leagues and puts his young son into sports, sports and more sports…pushing and pushing and pushing…never allowing the child to have a choice as to whether or not he wants to play that sport. Daddy is at every game cheering on top of his lungs or making faces when his child doesn’t live up to his expectations. Or maybe it’s the Mother who didn’t make it as a ballerina pushing her daughter to dance, dance, dance, when maybe the little girl would rather play hopscotch or on the swing set in the backyard.
I think this story is all about a Mother, who wants to see her dreams become a reality through her child. She isn’t worried about any negative effects from what she is doing. In her eyes, she is giving her daughter an opportunity to be a star!
What are your thoughts?
This is the antithesis to your “Authentic Me” campaign. In the olden days when I wrote for the newspaper I wrote about pageant kids. The story turned to the mothers who, like you noted here, were no different from the sports dad, the stage parent, etc. Some kids, like Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, or Elizabeth Taylor were natural stars at a young age. Even Michael Jackson. Did these former child stars, like the pageant kids, have a better life than the kids who gets to actually be a kid? Mostly not.
IOW some children are born to be on stage or on the field–but they’re the few. One hopes that most parents have the common sense to not force their child into super stardom. Let the kids play pretend supa-sta and let the kids be kids.
Well said, my friend!
This reminds me of making choices regarding Boone (my son), early in his life.
Boone has always been very photogenic, well-spoken, and well-liked. When he was an infant, people kept calling him a “Gerber baby.” As a preschooler, he auditioned at a talent agency. The recruiter told us: given his “look” and personality, he could go far. So the recruiter asked Boone if he’d like to be on television. Boone calmly answered, “No…” and explained that he didn’t want so many people to be watching him! I treasured this response, and what it said about his feelings inside. He showed what a unique individual he was. Needless to say, we left the modeling/acting to the kids who had the desire!
However, there is another side to parenting children with extraordinary abilities and talents. Occasionally, a child will display unusual aptitude and interest in a certain activity, and if the parent doesn’t accommodate it, the talent can be wasted. Many gifted young musicians, academics, athletes, writers, etc. have languished because their parents and teachers lacked the resources or motivation to provide support. It is a really tough job, sometimes, figuring out how to flexibly follow a child’s desires and interests, but still “push” them when it’s appropriate– when they need help with self-discipline and follow-through.
You bring up some good points. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!