If your Child wanted to go on American Idol, but was a horrible singer, would you tell them, or let them make a fool of themselves on national television?
This question was asked on the Rachel and Cary show on Now Radio this evening while I was driving home. I wanted to have my say, but since I was driving could neither call, nor text. Here are my thoughts.
I would not tell my child.
First, I suspect a person who wants to go on American Idol believes they are good enough to make it past the first round. If so, then I think it would be very difficult for me to suddenly tell my child she wasn’t actually a good singer. Which message would she believe – the original message received, that she was really good, or the new message, that she was really bad?
Either way we, her parents, would be in a bad position. If she believes the new message, then she’d loose confidence in us and wonder what else we’d lied to her about. She’d loose a lot of confidence in other areas as well, possibly even in areas that she really was good at.
However, if she believed the original message that she was a good singer, she’d wonder why we didn’t want her to try out, to go on the show. Trust would be lost. Then when she didn’t make it past try-outs, first round, she’d realize she wasn’t really very good. Then how could she trust us? She’d also likely loose confidence in other areas.
Either way, trying to back track and tell a confident child that they really aren’t any good would damage the relationship.
If we didn’t say anything and our child didn’t succeed, it would be much easier to say “Hey you gave it your best shot.” We could point out that the other contestants were better, and if they wanted to try again, they’d better practice, take lessons, study who moved on, why they moved on, and try to get better.
She might be upset, might be embarrassed, but she would be okay, and so would the relationship between us.
Of course it would be better off for us not to have placed value on how good she was, but rather on how much effort she put in. Letting her know that we notice effort will show we care about her interests, but it will not place value on how she’s doing. She’ll be more likely to work harder to improve if her efforts, rather than ability, are noticed.
She’ll have the opportunity to judge her ability for herself. She’ll have a better grasp of her own abilities and will know when she needs to work harder, or when she needs to ask for help.