Okay, shoot me. I watched most of American Idol on the night they were auditioning in Seattle. We were channel surfing, it popped up, and, well, it was so bad I couldn’t look away. And, yes, there were moments when I laughed.
But more often, I looked at people type casted right out of a John Waters movie and I kept wondering who let them get this far. Granted, most were of legal age to make their own bad decisions. But just like friends don’t let friends drive drunk, friends shouldn’t let friends who can’t sing audition for a national TV singing talent contest.
Maybe it’s harmless to cheer on a buzzed co-worker belting out Born in the USA on Karaoke Night at your local bar. But given the well-known formula of American Idol, how could anyone, especially a parent, encourage someone he/she loves to pursue an experience that is bound to end badly?
So what IS the responsibility of a parent to spare a child a ruffled feather, a bruised ego or a crushing blow? Sure, a baby has to fall to walk. But do you really let him burn his hand on the stove to learn it’s hot? You cringe but you cheer for him every time he strikes out in Little League. So should you encourage him to attempt something for which he is embarrassingly ill prepared?
Alotta parents seem to think having a bad experience is good for their kids. Perhaps as kids they were bullied or hurt or disappointed and now as adults they’re still trying to convince themselves it was a Martha Stewart “good thing?” I don’t know, public humiliation doesn’t seem like a good thing no matter how you spin it.
I can run interference for my son till the day I drop, but sooner or later something is gonna get pass me and take the wind out of his sails. I believe it will be his positive, empowering “I did it” experiences, not avoidable, bitter failures, that’ll add up to inspire him to tack into the wind and be under sail again.