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IDOLatry

by Debi Pomerantz

My kids are watching American Idol. And The Voice. And they watch America’s Got Talent and The X Factor when those shows are in cycle as well. And we find every music show that is on; we watched The Sing Off, and Platinum Hit on Bravo and we are totally looking forward to Off Pitch. Music is almost like another person in our house.

We know when my husband comes home from work because his radio is so loud we can hear it in the house. My kids get dressed in the morning with the radio on, go to bed at night with the radio on and all hours in between involve music. They sing, they dance, they rock.

So, my almost 12-year-old daughter (going on 30), who has grown up in a world where people find fame and singing careers by going on TV has decided that she too, is ready to start auditioning. She wants to sing. It’s in her blood and it’s what she’s passionate about. And she is good, really good. But . . .

I know that we need to allow our children to go out into the world and fail or succeed. I have always said as parents, it is our job to find our children’s talents and foster them. The self-confidence that comes with being good at something will carry you throughout your life. And so, after 5 years of voice lessons, successful singing performances and the constant insistence that her lifelong ambition is to win an “Oscar, a Tony and a Grammy,” what did I expect?

She is too young for Idol, X Factor and The Voice. But AGT appears to have no age limit and is accepting audition videos through the first half of spring. So she is busy working on the perfect song with her voice teacher. I am proud. I am thrilled that she has found something she is so passionate about, I am thrilled she has shown her ability to really commit to something and to take the initiative to go after something she really wants.

But . . . I do ask myself if it is right for us as parents to allow her to do this. Is it okay to knowingly set your child on what will probably be a road of mostly rejection?

There are so many moments in our children’s lives when we have to decide what kind of parent we are going to be. What impression will we make? What lesson will we teach them? What will they walk away with? I have those moments at different levels every single day.

And though I am terrified to see the look on my daughter’s face in that first moment of rejection, I know this is something I need to let her do. Yes, she is only 11 ½. This can wait. I could tell her she has to wait until she’s 18. But she isn’t asking to drop out of school, or do something dangerous.

She is asking to send in an audition video for something that could change her life. She knows that it is a one in a million shot, but she wants to live her dream . . . now. I am choosing in this moment to be the parent who helps her do this, not the parent who squashes her dream.

Maybe it’s a mistake? But she’s a pretty strong kid, and I know that even if (when) she is rejected this go around, she will want to do it again, and again and again.

We teach our kids that they can do anything they set their minds to. We do not tell them they are fantastic when they aren’t and we do not tell them “everyone’s a winner,” because there will be many times when they won’t win. However, we do believe (realistic) dreams are achievable with hard work, passion and commitment. That is what we teach them, and so we have to honor them when they believe it too.

I don’t know yet whether or not this dream is achievable for my kid. But I am not going to tell her at almost 12 to stop dreaming, or to put her dream on hold. I want her to go after things with her entire heart and soul, regardless of her age.

Who knows, maybe in a year or two she will decide she wants to move on. Maybe this is a passing phase. And maybe it isn’t. But I do know that if I put the brakes on it now, I am squashing a dream. And that, most decidedly, is not my job.

Debi Pomerantz

About Debi Pomerantz

Debi Pomerantz is mom to four kids, ages 11, 10, 8 1/2 and 6 1/2. Her OTHER full time job is as VP, Research for OWN, the Oprah Winfrey network. She is also a writer, wife, friend and daughter.

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