Growth Spurts: Kids and Their Talents
My firstborn, Callie, recently had the privilege–and joy!–of performing in her first big musical. She played the role of Narrator 4 in Ridgeland High School’s production of Aladdin, Jr. I cannot describe how much I loved watching her on that stage! Performing brought her so much life, and I had to fight back the tears every time I saw her up there.
Callie has also enjoyed being a part of her school’s choir for the past four years, and she gave an outstanding (I don’t care if I’m biased.) performance of “Defying Gravity” at her school’s talent show last fall. Again, I can see how much life and joy it brings her when she performs. Music is a huge part of her life. If she’s at home, she is most likely listening to music and singing along. When she was little, she regularly beckoned us into the living room to watch her perform. She has composed songs, and it seems to come naturally to her. Music is just in her soul.
One of the things I love about being a parent is getting to watch my children explore a variety of activities and discover which ones they really thrive in and enjoy. My kids have dabbled in baseball, softball, soccer, gymnastics, football, tennis, martial arts, choir, band, theater, ballet, piano, yearbook publication, videography, photography, visual arts, writing and publishing, culinary arts, robotics, and probably some other things I’ve forgotten. They spent more time in some of these activities than in others, based on how interested they stayed and on how gifted they were in each activity.
Kevin and I let our kids take the lead in which activities they pursue. Generally, we only let them be involved in one “extra” activity at a time, but some of them do overlap. We are open with our kids about how much money each activity costs–not to make them feel badly, just to help them understand how it all works. We are investing in them as they journey to discover their talents and desires. And they know that we will be their biggest cheerleaders, no matter which activities they decide to stick with.
It is all too easy to overschedule or overcommit our children (and, therefore, ourselves) these days. There are so many great activities and opportunities available to us, and it can be difficult to say no to some of them. But I urge you, fellow parents, not to fall into the trap of having every minute of your child’s time committed to an organized activity. Help them narrow it down. We need to give them plenty of free downtime so that they can really process and decide what they’d like to devote their time and attention to and also use that time to recharge.
It is our job as parents to help our children discover their talents and passions. It is also our job to help them understand that it’s not a big deal if they aren’t great at a particular activity or even if they just aren’t interested in it. And when they do discover their giftings and get fired up about it, it is then our job to support, encourage, and cheer them on like crazy! And maybe even get a little teary.
Carrie Bevell Partridge is thankful that her parents didn’t make a big deal out of her giving up her basketball career after eighth grade. And she knew they were proud of her when she became editor of her high school newspaper!