“Honey, can you play that note again?” my husband asked, peering over my shoulder at the music in front of me.
“Sure,” I responded. I played the target phrase on the piano, emphasizing the problem note.
“One more time?” he asked.
I obliged without comment. This was a common scene in our household whenever my husband worked on learning a song for the church choir. Without effort, melodies (or harmonies, for that matter) did not come easily.
Just as my husband demonstrated a desire to “learn his note”, so, too, do our children. Oh, they may not manifest that desire in ways we find comfortable. Their notes may screech in our ear, but they are singing and will continue to sing. It is our job as parents to help them find the harmonious notes and to help sound out the discordant ones.
A few years ago, my daughter returned home after spending the day with an older adolescent. That evening she announced to me, “I love Brittney Spears.” Shortly thereafter, she asked, “What is Brittney Spears?” My husband and I exchanged amused glances. We realized she was simply trying to fit in.
Adolescence is the process of finding one’s voice and learning to love its characteristics. As parents, it is imperative that we help our children find out who they are and what is great and unique about them. If *we* don’t know who and what they are, we need to find out.
Imagine a choir without a director. The director falls ill. Someone tries to fill in. Chaos occurs if the substitute is not well versed in music. How often do you feel like that substitute director with your own child? This month I have added several new links at this website for parents who feel like they are burning out.
The strength of any choir comes from many voices being able to sing different pitches, with unique timbres and tones. Yet youth often are unable to find their personal beauty, their personal capabilities. Thus, the influence of peers becomes tremendous and chaos in a youth’s life can evolve. We must help our youth find their voice in the midst of so many telling them what they like, what they should do, even who they are or if they matter.
Just as there are different types of sopranos (first, second, coloratura), there are many kinds of people. As each individual finds their own note, they will then be able to more solidly contribute to life’s “choir.” To help that process occur, it is important as a parent to be a sounding board for your adolescent as they find their own “note” in life.
Sounding boards resonate and “sound” notes that are struck. Be your youth’s sounding board. Listen. Listen to your youth. Do not tell, listen. Do not judge, help. Guide them to think for themselves. Ask them to find the consequences in the small choices; they will better be able to find the consequences in the large choices--before those consequences are upon them.
Spend time with them doing the little things in life. They will be more likely to turn to you for help with the big things in their life. You will thus be guiding them in their decision-making skills and helping them to find self-confidence in their personal “note”.
Remember, they have entered a world of discovery regarding their own personal power, just as you once did. They will test the balance between trying to fit in without falling out of favor. But they are at large risk of sacrificing who they are if they lose their own “choir director” in their life--you.
Just as my husband needed to hear his note plunked out multiple times, your child may need to plunk some notes louder than others. Give your child time to adjust their “rhythm”, their “pitch”, their “voice.” It takes time to learn a song for any choir; it takes time for youth to learn their “notes” in life. As you physically show forth love by being their sounding board, you will reflect their grander melodies resonating within.