Five Minute Friday: Cultivating Children Who Bloom

3414651655_2aeb165e03_oPhoto credit: Creative Commons via Compfight

The four year old and I are easing into our Friday. The brothers are off to school and he’s enjoying sole control of the Kindle for another round of Fruit Ninja. I’m savoring a second cup of coffee and procrastinating a major re-write on my current manuscript. In the midst of my time-wasting  caffeine consumption, I’m watching Hoda and Kathie Lee do their thing. They started their hour with a convoluted discussion about whether or not we tell our children if they’re not talented at a particular extra curricular activity.

Listen. Lest you think I take my parenting advice from morning talk show hosts, let me assure you that I do not. I found the discussion both disheartening and comical.

One of the hosts campaigned for passing the buck and taking the child to an expert (voice instructor, musician, etc.) so they could be the bad guy and deliver the news that the child had zero chance of making it in the entertainment business. However, she contradicted that advice when she stated she’d received negative criticism from her sister’s instructor and that motivated her to pursue a career in television and entertainment.

Say what?

The other host blathered on about her unfulfilled desire to be a cartoonist and a former professor’s advice that her appearance would be a roadblock to her success in the television industry. I can’t accurately represent her opinion on the issue because she never clearly stated her position.

I had a conversation with some other moms this week about how we help our children find their “thing”. Is it through process of elimination? That could be both expensive and exhausting. Encourage the child to pursue activities we enjoy? Sometimes that works, but it also has an excellent chance of backfiring. I’ve sat on many a sideline watching a parent blow a gasket when their child stands on the soccer or baseball field picking flowers, completely oblivious to the action going on around him.

What about when a child clearly possesses  natural talent or ability but shows little interest in pursuing that sport or activity? We have a child with a delightful singing voice who insists he “hates” music. Alrighty then. Another child keeps us in stitches with his great sense of humor but refuses to even think about attending a drama class or auditioning for children’s theatre. Our third has a beautiful left-handed throwing motion. T-ball was his idea this year but he looked miserable when he was on the field.

Clearly I don’t have this figured out from a parenting perspective. I don’t agree with finding someone else to tell our child they aren’t going to succeed. There’s a time and a place for constructive criticism, but I don’t think a young child is capable of processing that kind of feedback. I do know that my parents gave us opportunities to try new sports and activities, whether we showed any natural abilities or not. They watched us play hours upon hours of organized sports, funded our equipment needs and often traveled with our teams to watch us play. My sister was pretty good but I didn’t have any exceptional ability. They let me play, anyway. Because they saw value in learning teamwork, cooperation, the opportunity to win and lose graciously. I wrote lots of bad stories and drew hideous pictures of horses, but they never whispered a word of criticism. I begged to quit playing the piano not long after I started … that took some negotiating, but they let me stop taking lessons with only a casual warning that I’d regret my decision. Okay, Mom, you were right. I wish I’d kept playing the piano.

I think a word of encouragement and a willingness to support our children in their hobbies and activities, whether they are talented or not, goes a long way in cultivating children who bloom where they’re planted. I believe negative criticism only belittles their confidence and plants a seed of resentment.

I saw this post circulating social media earlier this year. I think his perspective sums it up nicely: “The Only Six Words Parents Need To Say To Their Kids About Sports … Or Any Performance”.

Your turn: how do you cultivate children who bloom? 

I’m linking up with Lisa Jo Baker and her weekly Five Minute Friday post. Come join us and tell us your thoughts on today’s prompt BLOOM.

Comments

  1. Leah:

    Heidi,
    I have to be honest, I represent the polar opposite of how to let our children bloom: very, very limited time in organized anything, and lots of encouragement in relaxed play and creativity. Childhood should not be an adult pressure maze to preform to find your talent. Who they are has been imbedded into their DNA long ago by Someone who knows their strengths and weaknesses and talents more than us. We have opted for short term clubs or activities (like a month of fridays in the summer or in the winter) more for something to do that is fun, and just for them, since they are always around their three other sisters. The experience they have interacting with those closest to them, and lots of unscheduled time to yes, get bored (limited time in front of screens is a must) naturally shapes them as confident, creative people. The only extra would be piano. Three out of four of my girls do lessons once a week, my second born realizing herself she does not like it probably because it did not come natural. It would be tempting to put them in this and that to keep them busy, my house would be quieter, less messy, and I could finally have something to talk about at the next school function, since the only thing mother’s of school aged children seem to talk about is what activities their kids do and how often! Im sure my obvious bent of being unsocial has a part of forming my philosophy, but whenever we try to throw our hat into the whole sign your kids up for stuff for your kids good, it seems so unnaturally, tears our family time of just hanging out together to shreds, and is so bloody expensive I would have to get a 2nd job. To us, it is not worth it.  
    Can you tell I feel strongly about this stance! HaHa!
    Best of luck on your book,
    Cheers,
    Leah

    Reply

    • Heidi:

      Hi, Leah. Thank you for taking the time to share your perspective. I think it sounds like a breath of fresh air in today’s over-scheduled world. Yes, God gifts each of us with unique abilities and part of the fun of parenting is watching those talents bloom and thrive.

      Reply

  2. Kristen:

    Hip, hip! I totally agree! I love sitting back and watching the amazing abilities God has given my children, and it is so much more FUN when I stop trying to micro-manage those abilities. A speaker came to our high school a few years ago with those “6 magic words” to say after any game. They have been a game-changer (no pun intended) in our home. I heard Andy and Sandra Stanley say once, “We want to be the kind of parents that our kids want to be friends with when they are adults.” A big piece of that is building up our kiddos with our words during their activities. They will have more fun, and so will you! 🙂

    Reply

    • Heidi:

      Hey, Kristen. Thanks for reading my blog. 🙂 I tried to remember those 6 magic words every time I went to the field to watch one of our boys play this past spring. It really does make the game more enjoyable for everybody. Thanks for sharing those wise words from the Stanleys, too. A great reminder not to exasperate our children.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *