Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Avoid Assumptions With Your Kids

I just finished watching a segment on the Today show on NBC.  Tony Bennett singing a song with Alejandro Sanz from Bennett's second album of duets with contemporary pop stars.  Tony Bennett has an incredible list of career accomplishments including fifteen Grammy's, two Emmy's, three platinum records, eight gold records, thirty charted singles, various lifetime achievement awards, and a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.  Not too shabby.  Sometime in the late 40's, before an great commercial success, Bennett was gigging in whatever small clubs would book him, and he made a stop at a club in Kentucky that was owned by my wife's grandmother and her first husband.  "Nana" heard him sing that night, and promptly said, "Oh, he'll never amount to anything."

"Oh, he'll never amount to anything"  - Nana
I love this story because it reinforces the phrase, "Don't assume."  Nana had no idea that Tony Bennett would go on to be signed by Columbia Records just as Frank Sinatra was leaving the label.  She had no idea that he would win fifteen Grammy's.  She heard an up and coming singer without the power of a professional backing band (and marketing power from a big label) on what could have been an "off" night for him.  And she made a judgement that she still laughs about today.  She honestly thought he was terrible, and she will still stand by her story.

Tony Bennett isn't the first guy to prove someone wrong.  People probably tried to get 5'3" Muggsy Bogues to find an alternate career path, but he was considered one of the best point guards of his era (and was AWESOME on NBA JAM for Sega Genesis - sidenote: NBA JAM is back!).  Every day there are people who overcome odds to become something great.  It is a timeless story that we all love.

We can also learn an important lesson in parenting from this story.  Don't assume that your kids will become something or behave a certain way.  I believe this principle should be liberally applied as a parent.  Don't assume your children are safe - make sure they are.  Don't assume your kids are going to be doctors - they may become artists instead.  It is so easy for a parent to assume that a child is going to become somebody that is their own ideal dream for that child.  For example, my parents assumed that I was going to be a doctor since I was really good at science and I watched ER religiously as a teen.  I majored in environmental science as a freshman and after the first semester, I realized that science just wasn't going to be for me.  I was still good at it, but I wasn't passionate about it.  I wasn't having fun.  So, I did what every parent hopes their child never does, and switched my major to communication.

A lot of parents want their children to assume their own dreams where they left off.  I see parents pushing their child in sports or music to the point that the child ends up hating it, and they end up doing the complete opposite.  Relax people!  Let your child discover who they want to be.  Present them with a variety of options, activities, and learning experiences.  Make them well rounded, and teach them how to achieve what they want.  You will have more fun, and so will they.


  1. I was once that young, too - and had a head of hair! You know what they say about assumptions, right? EVEN more so with the kids!



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