Should you lie to your child about their talents?

I recently attended a local competition called Oklahoma Kids where children of all ages are encouraged to show off their “talents” and compete for prizes and awards.  I love the philosophy behind the event in which it promotes a safe environment for them to test their skills in a way that is uplifting and respectful, plus I believe that healthy competition is essential for preparing kids for the challenges they will face in life.  The only thing that I started to consider is whether parents should encourage their children to pursue an activity for which they are not gifted at all.

Question: Should parents be honest with their kids about their lack of talent or should they continue to let their child do something they will never be good at?

Many of the kids who entered for singing were absolutely horrible!  I could only imagine the truth Simon Cowell would speak if they were on American Idol.  It was obvious that some of these children will never be singers and that their time would be better spent doing something else.  Unfortunately I think that some of these parents are extremely tone deaf (or lying to themselves) judging by the high number of categories they entered their children in. 

My personality (and maybe fault) is to simply say it like it is.  

I really want my kids to try different ideas or hobbies and I encourage them to take healthy risks to explore their interests, but if it becomes clearly evident that they lack the talent or ability to excel at it, I want to be honest with them.  My reasoning is that I would rather them develop their true talents and invest their time in that.  Some of the parents at this competition spend a lot of time and money on these events and it just doesn’t make much sense to keep it going if their child doesn’t have the ability.

Wouldn’t it be worse to let our children believe they are good at something and then find out later in life they really suck at what they had hoped to do with their so called “talent” – than to be straight-forward and honest with them?

I would think a child would be more crushed when they discover that the only people who believe in them is their parents.  It is going to hurt when they get made fun of or ridiculed.  It’s going to be tough to learn they will never make it with their hopes or dreams because no matter how hard they try, they don’t have the talent, gifting, or possibly DNA to succeed.  I am all for encouraging people to follow their passions or dreams but if we are being totally honest and realistic, there ARE some we will never be able to achieve.  I believe I can fly — like Michael Jordan — but the reality is that my horizontally and vertically challenged body will never be able to dunk a basketball from the free throw line!  

What do you think?  Should we be honest and encourage our kids to follow what they are really good at instead of what they aren’t? Or do we simply smile and let them discover for themselves it was only a dream?

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