Parenting: Taking center stage
February 24, 2012 (WPVI) -- Last Friday night, my 11-year-old son, Micah, had his first solo with the "Junior Jammers," the children's choir at our synagogue. If I do say so myself, he did a great job singing in Hebrew, from memory in front of a crowded sanctuary.
Micah's been in the Junior Jammers since third grade, but solos are voluntary and it wasn't until this month that he decided to audition.
It seems all three of my sons inherited what I call my "performance gene." I would put on my tutu and dance in front of our extended family after holiday dinners from the age of four. Later, I was in a youth ballet company, the high-school drama club and, of course, ended up on TV.
Ironically, aside from performances on the football field, my husband loathes the thought of being onstage - so really, our kids could've gone either way. I'm glad my sons enjoy singing and playing music in front of an audience, in addition to sports.
I really feel that performing pays off, in terms of self-confidence, and in many other ways. My oldest son, Jason, who competed in the Mr. Lower Merion pageant in high school, represented his frat in the Mr. Fraternity pageant at Carnegie Mellon (after all, not too many of his fellow football players had actual pageant experience!). He was recognized around campus the next day as the football player who also played guitar and sang. I know it made him feel proud.
My middle son, Billy, works as a DJ while teaching music and playing guitar for his Sunday School.
Retired ballroom dancer and choreographer Sheri LeBlanc says children derive many benefits from performing. The list includes developing creativity, confidence, promoting self-discipline and self-motivation, overcoming anxiety, learning memorization skills, problem-solving, social interaction and cooperation.
I've seen all these as my sons have performed at music recitals, in school concerts, plays, and at camp and youth group events. There are also physical benefits, especially if your children are interested in dance, according to the University Center for the Performing Arts.
Your child doesn't have to opt for the starring role, or the big solo. There are positive lessons to be learned in preparing for a performance, working together with friends and the payoff in applause from an appreciative audience.
Many children who were initially shy about performing go on to bigger roles as their confidence grows. Perhaps that will encourage them to try bigger challenges and to step out into the limelight as they go on through life in school and their careers.
As parents, I think it's important that we encourage our children to try new things, including performing, and to be their biggest fans. My sons will tell you they can hear me screaming from the bleachers when they play football, and they know I'll be clapping the longest and loudest at their recitals and concerts.
We also have family traditions - we always go to Wawa for an ice cream treat after a school concert -to reinforce how proud we as parents are of our sons putting themselves out there for an audience.
I think, as they get older, the self-confidence they gain from performing now will help them as they are asked to perform in life.
amy buckman parenting reports, parenting, amy buckman
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