It should go without saying that parents should encourage their children in ways that will enrich their children’s lives. It should, but so many parents instead choose to be unremittingly critical and negative that perhaps it must be said after all.
So parents, listen up! If your child expresses an interest in something that could generate happiness or self-esteem, and especially if your child expresses an interest in something that could lead to a marketable skill, do what you can to help them down the path to that interest. More ambitious parents may choose to take a more active role in this process of encouragement.
Some of you parents may wish to plant ideas in your children’s heads in the first place. It is best to be stealthy in this enterprise, do not approach the child directly and suggest things. No, it’s best to be oblique about it.
Keith Richards’ grandfather used stealth to get the boy interested in guitar playing. Keith’s grand-dad played guitar, but he wasn’t preachy about the pleasures of it. He just hung the guitar on the wall, out of the boy’s reach. If he caught Keith looking at it, he’d say something like, “oh, you like that? Maybe when you can reach it we’ll do something.” Keith climbed on a chair one day and took it down. Grand-dad said, “if you’re so anxious, maybe we can get started.” The rest, as they say, is history. It’s a grandparent in this story, but you get the idea.
Keith Richards enjoys telling this story, he tells it with love. Clearly he still appreciates what his grandfather did for him.
I did something similar myself, and today my son is a fine piano player. But this is not about my successes or failures as a parent. It’s about the children!
And hey, it’s Christmas after all!
What better gift could a parent give a child than a little gentle guidance and encouragement that could equip the child with a life-tool that could make the child a happier, more successful adult? The skill or the interest helps the child build confidence, and the encouragement itself can give the child a sense of self-worth. It’s a win/win situation.
And on the flip side of the coin, what greater harm could a parent do than to mock a child’s interest in something wholesome, or at least inoffensive? Oh, parents, the world will knock your children down a peg or two soon enough. No use to rush it.
Just a Christmas idea.