“I just want them to be happy. I want them to follow their dreams. To fulfill their passion.”
We all say it. We all mean it.
Or do we? I’m not sure I do anymore.
My children are only 10 and 12 and have a long time to change their minds – or to have their dreams dashed by teachers, friends and the world.
But if that doesn’t happen, should I crush them?
I love that they have a dream, a passion and possibly some talent. Last week I burst my pants and my pride dancing at my little boy’s punk rock group as he drummed and sang to the songs of my youth. He looks like a rock star, he’s comfortable up on that stage. I’ve been on a high with him ever since.
My daughter did an acting course and I cheered like crazy as she performed a little play they’d written about being mean teenagers. I love watching her ham it up. I’m so proud of her and my phone is full of her in crazy outfits performing little sketches, skits and crazy movies she writes for herself.
But let’s face it, they’ve chosen two professions that are incredibly hard to get a go in, let alone make enough money to live and last long term.
As a child who grew up in the 70s era of free life and free love – and as a Generation Xer damaged because reality really does bite – I am completely torn.
I want to be the parent that backs my babes and helps them achieve their destiny. But I also want to be a parent that has kids who can provide for me in old age. A parent who is rapidly realising I should have encouraged maths and accountancy instead of drums and drama.
Am I getting old? Cynical? Scared?
We all know the stories of children’s passions squashed. Of children forced into boring futures when they felt destined for better. TV shows like The Voice trade on those dreams. There’s a parade of ordinary Australians who think they have something special who stand up to be told they do – or they don’t. And even if they do, only one can win.
This 17-year-old girl sung Delta Goodrem’s hit song, Born to Try, on The Voice and no judge turned around. Not even Delta. (Post continues after video.)
But I have other nightmares, too.
In those nightmares, my kids don’t make it and I have to work until I’m 90 and I have to support them. In those nightmares, we all sit around a radiator eating from tin cans. my daughter stacks supermarket shelves some nights and queues for auditions all day, waiting for her big break. In other dreams, my son couriers crack by day so he can play in a Beyonce cover band at night. I wake imagining him older, bald on top with a limp ponytail down his back, ear pinned by one outsized earring, playing for a few friends and a barman. Or at a local retirement home where I’m up the front, his only groupie.
Then again, what if they make it?
What if he gets famous? In a cock rock band! Becomes a drug addict or treats female groupies badly? What if he gets destroyed by the excesses of fame and starts smashing hotel rooms and wearing ridiculous outfits on stage?
Some child stars that have seen the lows of being so famous. (Post continues after gallery.)
What if it all ends quickly and he spends the rest of his life in withdrawal from the high, never happy and satisfied again because he’s felt the sheer exhilaration of being adored by masses. What if he becomes a washed-out has-been with no other skills?
What if he ends up unemployed, sad, unfulfilled and lost?
What if my daughter makes it big in Hollywood and has to struggle with food so she can be skinny? What if she gets an eating disorder? What if she has to be botoxed, filled and lifted so she looks perpetually young? What if she is mocked for her clothes, slut-shamed for her actions, and grows egotistical and horrible because people don’t stand up to her fame and glory.
Have you listened to Jane Kennedy (absolutely awesome woman, by the way) talk about how she has learnt that you have to fail? And, she’s totally okay with that. (Post continues after video.)
Yes, I know my imagination is running away with me.
Yes, I know it’s all ‘what ifs’.
Yes, there are other what ifs. What if she becomes the next Amy Poehler, or Amy Schumer or Tina Fey? What if he becomes a rock star like Ricky Martin with heart, soul, goodness and kindness.
That would be all our dreams come true.
But there comes a stage in a young person’s life where a parent must steer them. I’m not a stage mother. I’m not a ‘No, I forbid it’ mother.
But how do you decide whether to let them fly, knowing that they can plummet? How do you steer them towards achievable goals? How do you help them adjust their fantasies to becoming pipedreams or real possibilities?
Should Sarah crush her kids dreams? Let us know in the comments.
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