Kids these days don’t know how to fail and the only ones to blame are us parents.
My almost-four-year old daughter is ballet obsessed. She walks on her toes and twirls in her tutu.
She instructs me on first, second and third positions.
She talks about popping bubbles with her fingers and pretends to pick up imaginary baskets, pluck out tiny imaginary daisies and fling them elegantly around the room.
She is a pre-school budding ballerina.
Unfortunately, she has my co-ordination and grace; her plies are more like plods. Her glissade more a galumph.
I live in fear that she will be told, much like I was at the tender age of six, to think about “taking up knitting perhaps instead deary.”
I clearly remember the moment I realised that I actually sucked at ballet. I cast a look in that never-ending wall of mirrors at my wrinkled tights, torn at the knee from falling once-too-often, and knew I would never be like them.
And you know what? I didn’t really give a damn.
Because it was fun (and I was even worse at knitting.)
So I allow my daughter to continue, even though at the end of year concerts I know she will always be the one in the last row.
I allow her to continue, because she loves it.
But in the back of my mind I hold that deeply entrenched parenting fear: What if I am actually harming her? What if it damages her self esteem not being the best?
And I wonder – should we be encouraging our kids to do something even though we know they will fail?
It’s a tricky issue that has cropped up on a recent parenting thread on Reddit, with a question from a parent (I’m assuming is his father) and who goes by the name of Astronaut Freddy.
Astronaut Freddy asks whether he should allow his daughter to compete in a singing talent contest, when she clearly, in his view, talentless when it comes to holding a tune.
Overwhelmingly, Reddit readers replied – yes, but many suggested he might look into getting his daughter some training.
The mere fact that poor old Astronaut Freddy is grappling with these issues makes me want to sigh – loudly and deeply.
Like all parents he obviously just want to do the best by his daughter, but to be forced to take to social media for advice on whether to let a ten-year old sing at a talent contest shows us just how fearful we are of our children failing.