Championing our children is one of the great joys of parenting. Watching them grow and achieve their dreams is so satisfying. It's our pride in our kids, and pride in ourselves for our role in shepherding them though childhood and the challenges associated with achieving those dreams. That behind the scenes effort and assistance is so critical - and that's just what a "stage mother" provides. So don't cringe when you hear the term - embrace it!
"Stage mothering" is not just about the stage. Although the mothers of child performers may have received the most press in this realm, sports and other abilities have stage parents as well. Every single one of our kids have gifts and could use some support and advocacy. Sometimes sacrifice is involved, too, but mostly it's cheerleading - and carpools and gear and lessons....whew!
Think beyond the stage to think about what stage mothering means to you. Think about the ways you facilitate and encorage and support. Yes, you are a stage mother. We all are!
It's not wrong to encourage and support your child in their dreams, just really be sure the dreams are theirs - not yours. Perhaps the reason some moms get a bad rap is because they are transferring their own dreams onto their child. Perhaps the child expressed an initial interest, but it was the mother who took it to the next level because of their own dreams and desires, and the child got swept up before he or she knew what was happening. Even the most even, down-to-earth mother has occasionally gone a little overboard, wrapped up in her own enthusiasm.
Simple regular conversations with your child about how much they want to do this or that - and reassurance that you'll love them and support them no matter what - are important to both of you. In this way you make sure that the dream you're supporting is really your child's dream, and the drive to succeed in that dream is theirs, not yours.
While embracing the role of stage mother, take care not to cross that fine, invisible line into overbearing and unreasonable. Yes, we all think that our kids are super special, and they are...but that's the point, we all think that. Acting like that...well, that's when the lines get crossed and the negative connotation of stage mother begins.
Ask yourself, on a regular basis, whether you are over-stepping bounds. Maybe ask a close friend or two, as well. Ask yourself how you might feel if you witnessed your own behavior. Only you can decide for sure if you are crossing that invisible line, but knowing that's it's there and needs to be considered is a first step.
Stage mothers, whether for stage or field or other realm, play a critical role in a child's success. Embrace your role as your child's support and advocate, for all the right reasons and in all the right ways.
Jens Lindemann, renowned trumpet soloist and Professor of Trumpet at UCLA, provides encouragement to parents of musicians who might be concerned about the moneymaking potential of a career in music, and discusses the special skills that being a musician imparts that can have a huge impact in other fields.
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