Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Tomorrow night at this time a new American Idol will be announced and although it isn't as important as the election of a new president, another of my favorite subjects, it is fun and a big deal in television land - and I am calling the competition in favor of David Archuleta, but it represents more than a talent competition.

For me, David represents all the hopes and dreams of every talented young man and woman with a dream. Whether the desire is to be the greatest new singing discovery in the country, a phemon basketball player, or the countries next great scientist, watching his rise to prominence reminds me of my younger self - filled with hopes, dreams and aspirations.

When he walks on the stage and opens his mouth to sing I am reminded of another starry-eyed talented young man who was never encouraged, nor discouraged, who lacked the requisite drive and confidence to achieve such heights, and the flood gates are opened, flashing back to what might have been.

Much has been said and written regarding David's ever present father, calling him a svengali monster who wheedles and controls his son's every move, but he is no different then the millions of fathers who push and belittle their sons during little league or high school football?

Being interested and invested in the success of your child, even if it occasionally crosses the line, increases a child's confidence and is worlds better than indifference and apathy.

My personal American idol, Barbra Streisand, has credited her mother's indifference and lack of encouragement with pushing her to achieve her successes, but I think that it is evident by the reputation many hold of her, that regardless of her mother's apathy, she possesses a strong sense of self and an innate will and drive and would have been as hugely successful

Most children are not as lucky as Miss Streisand. They don't inherently understand their power and talent, and many aren't nurtured and encouraged, at home or school, and therefore their talent goes unchecked and unnoticed.

I never understood the importance of sports until I got older, but now I recognize the innumerable benefits. Among others attributes, athletics, as well as many other competitive activities, boost a child's confidence and instill an understanding of team work, as well as help with goal setting and pushing limits.

I was not especially athletic, although I could hold my own on a tennis court, but it was not compulsory for me to engage in athletic endeavors. I didn't have parents who pushed me to excel musically, academically, or athletically.

At home, my school grades were never much of a topic of conversation. I coasted through school with average grades, excelling in the subjects that fit my interests and ignoring, or barely passing, those that I found arduous.

I always knew I was loved, but whether because of apathy, neglect, indifference or absence, no one ever sat me down or showed interest. Unlike David Archuleta, no once pushed, encouraged, demanded or berated me in any direction.

This reminds me though of an amusing story...

When I was younger, maybe 17, my grandmother wrote me a letter, one I think I still have to this day, or at least I hope I do, and in the letter tells me if I worked hard someday I could be the president of the United States. She also wrote that I would probably have to run against the Kennedy boy (John-John) but that she believed I could beat him.

One of the ironic aspects of that story is that although my family believed in the successes that came from hard work, there was never a roadmap of how to achieve accomplishment – whether it was in the form of education or the encouragement to develop any particular talent.

Working long and difficult shifts at a factory can feed and clothe a family, and even lead one to being comfortable in life, but it can’t lead to greatness or the presidency.

How did they, or grandma in this instance, think that I would achieve greatness? By working at Kellogg’s? From factory worker to president in an instant.

There was never a genuine discussion about my future, and the hollow encouragement I received didn't lead to the presidency, or a recording studio or a contagious disease lab. I deeply love my family but I am stupefied by what they thought me and my siblings would realistically do with our lives.

Experiencing this made me realize that parents need to explore, encourage, push, and even demand, the most from their children. When a child whines about having to read a book, write a thank you note, swim a lap, or play the flute, it is a parent's job to find a way to hearten, stimulate, persuade, or cajole.

I applaud the support, encouragement and the rumored authoritative stand David Archuleta’s dad has taken. It is obvious he is proud of his son, values his talent, and has striven to help him achieve his success.

In my estimation, anything less is neglect!


Patty B said...

Well said. I recognized that familiar lack of parental involvement but never gave much thought to it......again you have given me reason to pause and think....Thanks!

Michele said...

great post!

palestar said...

but you knew you were loved...

knowing one is loved and cared about to me is one of the most important feelings in anyones life. it isn't always being loud and proud - simply being quietly loving and supportive works too.

as far as the two davids - one will win the coveted title and one won't - life is what happens when your busy making other plans you know - bottom line they both are gifted and both can have great careers - and hopefully they will not buy into the hype and the bull crap as many do. hell just enjoy the ride - appreciate their gifts - and feel great that they are indeed loved and believed in.

we are are all blessed when we have family and friends who for no particular reason simply care about us - no matter what...

Liz1971 said...

chris-loved reading your words..as always! however, i must say, i had the parents that pushed and pushed and wanted me to excel in so many ways. at one point in my life it really became too much to handle--knowing i wasn't meeting their expectations of me. so i think there is such a thing as 'encouraging' too much- i'd like to think there is a happy medium though!

tammy said...

you always make me think....I love you for that and so many other reasons!!!xoxo T.

Donna's World said...

Chris, I made comments on our group site, but before I'd read this essay. I had thought in terms of 'over' encouragement, such as Liz speaks of. Hadn't thought about the opposite... lazy or no encouragement. You're not wrong. In fact, while it may be great to actively speak words of encouragement, you are so right that parenting/mentoring takes more .. it also takes someone who can be a guide to point out the way in concrete ways. The child has to do the work and make the achievement, but they don't come into the world knowing the pathways. It takes an adult to show them the paths and then cheer them on as they journey. Love your piece; it's a very important point you make. Thank you for your thoughts and your heart in revealing the real experience and emotion behind the thoughts.

Anonymous said...

loved this chris. i could go on and on about my opinions and experiences. i may have to blog about it tomorrow. (linking back here of course. =D).

Def. got my mind going though.

Jenice said...

Well we all know who won. And Cook was my favorite. Even thought at my job, JC was the favorite but that couldn't be helped...he WAS from a hometown we cover. Cook has an amazing voice and I really think David A would be best suited for Broadway.

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