homegrown mama

::Never say never::

In kids, parenting on 20112011-11-16T09:30:41+00:0030 9/11 at 09:30

I recently watched the documentary Never Say Never. This film follows teen pop sensation (and Canadian boy) Justin Bieber on his rise to fame via YouTube and other social networking platforms. An “impressive and whirlwind experience” is probably an understatement in describing the journey that catapulted him from his modest home in small-town Stratford, Ontario, to popularity virtually unfathomable to any regular teen.

According to the film, which culminates in his first sold-out concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden last summer, the now 17-year-old never had a voice lesson before he became famous. He also plays a host of instruments (guitar, piano, trumpet and, most notably, the drums). He’s what you’d call “a natural,” and he is a very blessed kid indeed to have supportive family and friends who encouraged his musical development at an early age. I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that he wasn’t just another manufactured pop act, created by record executives and bigwig producers to make money off of young teen girls.

After viewing the entire show, I couldn’t stop thinking how the most poignant moment for me in the entire 1h 45m of footage was a fleeting shot of his parents in the audience at the featured concert. Though they split shortly after Justin’s birth, they stood together watching their son sing and dance to a crowd of 20,000 fans, tears in both their eyes, and awe on their faces. What a mind-blowing experience!

While a lot of parents would think their kid was wildly successful for these achievements, I am curious: would his parents be as proud and excited if he stood before them in uniform, boots shined, white gloves on, and beret perfectly perched upon his head? If Justin Bieber had decided instead to enlist himself in the Armed Forces, would his mother have cried tears of disappointment and fear instead of tears of joy? Would his father have shaken his hand and wished him good luck as he headed off to Basic Training, or would he have been letdown, thinking he must have thrown away his dreams?

Being a parent sure changes the way the world looks. Risks seem riskier, decisions carry more weight, and character-building is the key to ensuring the “success” of our kids as they grow into adults. And I’m not saying Bieber’s family hasn’t worked their hardest to build on a solid foundation of love, faith and trust (the show clearly reveals that they have!). But part of me feels like it would be quite easy to accept these types of blessings for your child. After all, doesn’t every parent wonder, at some point, “Maybe my kid will be the next [insert favourite celebrity here]”?

I didn’t grow up with much knowledge of Canada’s Armed Forces. And I’m sad to say this is the case for many people I know. But being a part of the military family now means that it also may remain part of my family in the future. If Heidi or Oren want to serve Canada in the Forces, I’d like to have enough faith, and confidence in their character, to wholeheartedly support them for choosing a path with a higher purpose, even if the cost could be their lives. (Of course, if one of them turns out to be a musical prodigy and tours the world selling out major venues, I’d be elated!) But in my heart, I know it takes a special type of person to say, “Yes, I will lay down my life for freedom, and for my country.” And while it may not be what I want to hear as a mother, it certainly stems from the kind of selfless and justice-driven character I want to instill in them as a parent. So no matter what ambitions, hopes and dreams we may have for our children, just remember: never say never.

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