Sometimes our enthusiasm and concern for our children overwhelm common sense. The excitement at seeing them excel or need to protect them from hurt and disappointment cloud our judgment. Here are four things I’ve learned as the mother of actress Ari Graynor — as a young child, extremely determined, with big dreams — that I hope make these boundaries clearer.
LISTEN AND OBSERVE
Put out a buffet of opportunities, not just the ones you wish or want your child to pursue, and see what excites them. There is nothing worse than forcing your “square” child into a round hole.
DON'T BE A BUTTINSKY
I am reminded of a dad I coached who didn’t get why his talented football player son wanted to quit the team. Could it have been because he taped all of the games and then spent an hour after each one telling his son what he did wrong?
LET CHILDREN TAKE RISKS
Sometimes things work out the way you plan and sometimes they don’t. Just ask Ari about the hundreds of auditions and parts she coveted but did not get. Though my heart would break for her every single time, I know that she does not regret any of those auditions, and never saw them as failures. Of course she felt disappointed, but she recovered and moved on, developing one of the most important life skills: resilience.
OPEN YOURSELF TO NEW EXPERIENCES
Having children changes you, and that is a good thing. My husband never, in his wildest dreams, thought he would end up on stage as a Nazi general in a summer theater production of “The Sound of Music.” When Ari decided she wanted to try out for “Marta” in a production of this musical, we all decided to try out and make it a family affair. I was the only tanned nun in the history of the show, Greg was a surprisingly convincing Nazi general, and, yes, Ari was an adorable Marta. It was an experience we will never forget.