We're no Mozarts but music is a very important part of our family life. I grew up singing in the Sunshine Band in church. My mother always sang to us. She encouraged our creativity and melodic harmonizing. I was in my high school choir and the marching and orchestra band. I went to a college where the conservatory was one of the best. I danced and put on a musical jamboree in college. One sister married a church pianist who is self taught. My brother and younger sister play and played in their respective HBCU marching bands. My ExHusband has played every kind of genre of music from Go-Go to Hard Core. He makes beats and fixes music equipment for musicians as a hobby/side hustle. When my kids fight we "sing it out". Essentially we love music. My family takes for granted, that if any of us has a kid, they'll be rhythmic and melodic.
Enter my youngest. She is almost three, cunning and confident. I never really paid attention before but I noticed that when she sings, sometimes it's a bit... Hmm as I'm writing I can't even describe it. But I attributed it to her being a baby and just loving to yell. Since she is the youngest I figured she was creating a signature method to be heard and distinguish her place within the three piece. But I am very wrong.
The other night we were singing Rihanna songs (yes this is our guilty pleasure). Her songs are easy to sing, pop diddies that make you happy, 'cause that's pop music. So we are singing "Stay" and me and the older two are projecting a wonderful choral rendition with some harmony thrown in every-now-and-then. Well, here comes my youngest belting out a solo that is nowhere on key. Like not remotely near the key we are singing in. And because she is so young I think it's cute. But what happens when she gets older? Her confidence to take the lead is unsettling... In fact it's jarring. I know she'll be fine. She's super rhythmic and ultra confident. If we have a band she'll be the drummer, no one can hear a drummer singing without a mic.
I've thought about this. Lots of families have signature traits... Super tall, very soft spoken, uncomfortably attractive or really smart, really outgoing, or really badass; even super athletic or artistic. But when we take for granted these God given "signature traits", the black sheep usually feel the brunt of not fitting in. Here are a couple things to do about it:
1. Nothing is certain. Your entire family may be red heads and you end up with the kid with jet black hair. Genetics is the trick of nature. Recessive genes are the trump card of the game. All of humanity is part of one massive gene pool so honestly it's a toss up.
2. Don't punish your kid for being different. If everyone is cool and your kid happens to be the weirdo or loser don't let other family members bully them or mistreat them. Being different can be punishment enough.
3. Talk to your kid and help them find the things they are good at. Make sure you highlight everyone's talents. Not just the signatures. That way everyone feels great!
4. Make your family try new things. Trying new activities lets you see new talents come to the surface. It also puts everyone in a position of a novice.
Being part of a family should be fun. These are the people you can reference and depend on. At least it should be that way. When you are with your family you should feel at home. Signature talents although awesome and defining, they can be burdensome and pressuring. Make sure that as parents you're aware of everyone's abilities and you provide opportunities for everyone to shine... Even mom and dad.
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working in edtech. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.