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My older daughter showed an amazing
aptitude for singing and drama at a very young age. Over the years,
I’ve gone back and forth over whether to really encourage those talents
outside of the programs available at school and the local recreation
On the one hand, it would provide a great extracurricular activity
for her and a way to increase her self confidence. On the other, I worry
that she may get too caught up with this side of her life and let other
equally important aspects take a backseat. What are your views on nurturing
these creative talents in your children? What ways have you found to
balance your child’s interests with your ideas of what they should
My son's greatest talent so far is blowing bubbles (he's eight weeks!) so the only real experience I have is what I remember from my childhood.
My parents encouraged me to do what I love, while also giving me the opportunity to try new things. I too was very musically/theatrically involved when I was young, so when I wanted to sign up for community theater and choirs my parents were great about getting me to auditions and rehersals. They also FORCED me to play softball one summer which later became another love of mine. Stints with volleyball and basketball were not as successful, but at least I tried them and found out through experience.
They managed to get me involved by saying "If you want to be in the choir this summer then pick one other activity that you've never tried before" sometimes I loved it, sometimes I didn't, but I always had to finish what I started and the next year I would choose something else.
I'd like to do the same for Thomas one day. Nurture the natural talent that he displays and encourage his enthusiasm, but also enroll him in various activities that he might not have chosen for himself just to see if one of them is also something that he can enjoy.
If your child shows that he/she has a special talent, of course you want to nuture that talent, without pushing too far. School comes first, so if your child's extracurricular activities start interfering with school, then you know it's time to take a step back. I watch children in pageants and in my opinion, it's fun to a certain extent. Sometimes, parents get too caught up in these activities and it takes a toll on the child's life. One of the worst things in life in wasted talent and praising your child for being lucky enough to have a talent in the arts is great, but only push her so far. Let her decide when enough is enough.
I think that it is absolutely our jobs to nurture our children's talents..but only to a point where they are still enjoying it and doing well in school. If your child begins to resist going to "ballet class" or "baseball", you may need to evaluate whether or not you are truly nurturing their talent or simply trying to relive your own.
There are so many questions about parenting that are really gray areas. Who knows what the proper nurturing of a talent you can give. There are extreme examples like Tiger Woods of people with God-given ability combined with a parent that recognized it and honed it with lots of early work. But for every Tiger, therte are thousands of people without that talent who simply end up resenting the activity and the parent for forcing it on them.
Use your instinctual judgment as a parent to determine when enough is enough and introduce your child to a wide variety of experiences/activities.