It’s Essential To Tell Your Kid They Are Not Perfect

I think it’s fair to say 99% of parents reading this page think that their child is talented. He or she very well may be and of course you should support your child and let’s face it we all are biased in one way or another when it comes to our kids.

But even the most talented kids are not perfect all the time and parents who constantly tell their child they are great when they are not are doing a them great disservice.

I remember after one performance, I asked my then 15 year-old son how he thought he did and his response was, “Eh.” I replied that while he did a good job I had heard him perform that song better. He agreed. An 10 year old girl overheard me and told me I was “mean” because I said that instead of telling him he was great. I explained that it is not “mean” to be honest.

Over the years I have witnessed many of those children whose parents think they are the most talented, most perfect, tell their child they were amazing when they clearly were not. What happens to these kids is they end up with a false sense of self. A false sense of their abilities. They cannot fix what they do not know is broken. They do not work hard to improve on their skills because mom and dad said they are awesome so why should they.

From a very early age I have been honest with my children about their performances. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t come out and say, “Boy that sucked!” Okay, full disclosure, maybe once or twice with my adult son, but that was in a joking manner when he also knew what he was working on was very rough and he agreed with me.

I usually listen to them and watch them perform and then give them an honest appraisal. I try to always find something positive to say about the performance but then hone in on the areas that may be rough where there are pitch problems or they have gotten shouty. I try to do this as much as possible before the actual performance so they have time to make adjustments.

This is beneficial to them for a couple reasons, first they will perform better when the time arrives but they also begin to recognize the areas that need work themselves and tell me what was wrong before I even get a chance to. This has served them well over the years as they have grown up and had to work on new material on their own.

This has not only stayed true at home but also with those they have worked with, instructors, directors, I have always encouraged them to be honest with my children and tell them how to improve their skills and performances. Many have told me they appreciate being able to do their job without worrying that they will upset me or my child.

If my child is not doing what is expected of them they need to be told, period. My children have defiantly benefited from this. Over the years I have often been told by directors how impressed they were with my children being able to take direction and easily make the corrections.

Unfortunately not all parents feel this way and are highly offended when their child is corrected. Often, at a community level and professional level, those children are not cast in shows again simply because the directors do not want to deal with the parent. I’ve seen that happen many times.

That being said, my children only work with those who treat them respectfully. There is a difference in giving a correction and just yelling, outright being mean or degrading. My children have worked with people like that and have refused to work with them again. My then 13 year-old daughter once told me, “Mom I respect myself to much as an actress to work with someone who screams at and degrades their cast.” This director had never treated her personally like this but she watched the way she had treated others in the casts she had been in. I credit her stance to her working with real professionals both on stage, as directors and instructors. When you work with professionals you learn how to behave and how you should be treated.

Another big mistake many parents make is exerting influence over directors to give their child a role, a lead or a title. (This in itself is a topic I will write about at a later date so I’m only touching on it now.) This is in my mind even worse than constantly telling your child they are great because they gain a false sense of their abilities, their type, and their expectations for their future.

What happens to the kids who are always told they are great or get roles they do not earn? They go out into the real world and are hit hard by reality in the face. They go to college auditions at only the top schools, most don’t have second tier or safety schools on their list and they don’t get into a program. Or if they do get into a program, it’s usually not a top tier program, they don’t get cast in shows and they can’t understand why. Many simply do not know how to handle it leading to many problems. In their minds and possibly in reality, they have failed and having never “failed” in getting what they have wanted in their lives or careers before, they are ill equipped to deal with the emotions that come with it.

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An Open Letter to my Son and Daughter about Donald Trump

Editors Note:

Ever since my kids were old enough to hear and understand news reports of celebrities behaving badly, I have tried to talk to them about those situations. I would discuss with them why what that person did was wrong, and explain the results of that poor behavior affecting that person’s career. I think this is important to do with all children, so they have a clear understanding of what they are hearing or reading about. But I also feel the importance is greater for those children who aspire to have a career in the entertainment industry and may themselves someday be celebrities.

When news of the latest Donald Trump scandal broke on Friday, I know as a woman, I was supposed to be shocked by the comments he made about women the most. I have never been one to be offended by “vulgar language” so for me it was not about the swear words. And don’t get me wrong, it is never ok to sexually assault someone or make unwanted sexual advances and the fact that anyone would brag about doing so is appalling. But what upset me most seems to be something that is getting glossed over, the fact that he said, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

Let that sink in for a minute Donald Trump believes that because he is a “star” he can do anything he wants to including sexuality assault women, which let us not forget, not only violates those women personally but also is against the law. If he believes he is allowed to do this as a celebrity, what does he think being President of the United States will allow him to do? 

As a mother of two children who are occasionally exposed to celebrities and in the future will be even more so, and may even themselves be classified as a celebrity someday, I see this as an incredibly important teaching moment. Not just for me and my children but for all those Momagers and Papagers out there who also have children who are in the entertainment field.

The following letter was inspired by the very real conversation I had to have with my 14 year old daughter after she had read all of Mr. Trump’s and Billy Bush’s comments and decided to watch the talking heads this morning on the news. I could have turned it into a political conversation but instead chose to relate the message in a more personal way.

I want to be very clear that this is NOT a political statement it is a human one.

My dear children,

As I know you both have heard, Donald Trump has been caught on audio tape bragging about making unwanted sexual advances and sexually assaulting women. I want to make this very clear to both of you, it is never ok to make unwanted sexual advances toward anyone nor is it ok for someone, regardless of who they are, to make unwanted advances on you or to sexually assault you.

Now I know you think you have heard this speech “a thousand times” because I have cautioned you about being careful since you were little due to sharing dressing space and been backstage with adults, but this lecture is a little different.  So please bare with me and pay close attention.

Right or wrong, in our culture, with celebrity, comes a degree of power. However being a celebrity does not give you the right to break the law or excuse boorish behavior. As the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. In fact being a celebrity brings with it a responsibility to try your best to set a good example for those who look up to you. I get that celebrities are people and all people make mistakes, and you my children will make mistakes. We all do. But following the laws of our country and the bounds of human decency are things everyone should aspire to do.

Also being a celebrity should not give someone power over you as an individual. You should never feel that you have to let someone touch you inappropriately or have sex with someone because they are famous. THIS IS NOT OKAY!

Please always remember that no job, role or career is worth tolerating, or suffering abuse at the hands of another, period. Your self-esteem and self-worth are more valuable than any riches that may come from your career. By being strong, saying no and reporting anything that is inappropriate or illegal, you may not only save yourself but possibly many others from enduring the unthinkable. It will only be when people are brave on a regular basis and stand up for what is right that less and less people will be like Mr. Trump and think that being a celebrity gives them license to behave badly, violate others and break the law.

Remember that, despite what you have witnessed recently in our country, being respectful, kind and professional will always take you farther in the long run.

Love,

Mom

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