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Does your child exhibit a talent that you had as a kid? Or a talent you wished you had as a kid?
And now, because you love your child, you want to expand that talent. With passion and commitment, you cart him or her around to lessons and explore performance opportunities and buy practice materials so they can pursue this dream like you once did. Or like you were never able to do.
That passion and commitment is a beautiful thing, because some young creatives go unsupported, which is always a shame. But I encourage you to take a break from all of that to ask yourself this important question:
Whose passion is it?
Talent and passion aren’t the same thing. A person can have lots of talents they are not passionate about.
And since kids are kids, they have a hard time separating what’s theirs from what’s yours. Simply asking if they want to do a particular activity doesn’t necessarily get you to the real answer. They love you. They want you to admire them. They want to be like you.
If you ask your daughter if she wants to take singing lessons, and she knows that you want her to want that, she could very well conflate her desire with what she knows will please you.
I see it all the time.
As a teacher, and an outsider in these families, it feels wrong and out of place to tell a parent that I think they don’t know what their child wants. If I detect no genuine desire in a student, I try to encourage him or her to be honest with mom and dad about dreams and goals.
But here’s what happens almost every time. The student tells me that she or he DOES want singing lessons. Because (as I said) kids are kids, and they have a hard time separating what’s theirs from what’s their parents. It’s up to us adults to help them find their true paths.
So then, what can you do to be sure you’re not pushing your own desires onto your child? You can check in (often) with the three P’s.
Practice. Passion. Progress.
Practice: Does your kid practice? This isn’t a definitive clue by itself, because some kids just haven’t developed their “homework muscles” yet. But if the answer is a solid no, check in with the next two P’s.
Passion: Does your child exhibit a self-propelled desire to learn the topic? Even if there is limited practice, are there moments of excitement over new accomplishments? Does your daughter look forward to lessons? If you forgot to schedule a lesson, would your son remind you?
Progress: Even students who are bad about practicing will progress in their skills if they are genuinely inspired. Those who are not tend to forget information from one week to the next, because it didn’t hold their interest.
If you’re not seeing the three P’s, it’s time to look for a new instrument or outlet for your child. Kids have all kinds of talents waiting to be explored. The key is finding a talent they also have passion for. Even if the choice disappoints you. Success in any endeavor requires more than talent. It takes self-propelled passion, which leads to practice and progress.
One final thought: If you’re heartbroken to discover that singing/performing isn’t your child’s genuine passion, maybe YOU are the one who should be taking lessons…