Backup Plans

My default status is caution. Let’s just get that out front and in the open right away. I want to know every option available to me and have a detailed plan before I do anything.

This is beneficial in many ways and has saved me in the past from going down paths that I didn’t need to be going down. When I’ve thought through as many options as possible and gotten as much data as I could I’ve often made better decisions.

There are inherent downsides as well. Sometimes I miss out on great opportunities or I am too slow in making important decisions because I’m so focused on making the right one (and not wanting to be wrong).

Can anyone else out there relate? Raise your hand if you’re with me. 🖐️

Where It Gets Tricky

Both of my children want to be a part of the entertainment industry. My son wants to be an actor. My daughter, on the other hand, is much more inclined towards the makeup, costuming, and art side of things.

I would guess that I side with the majority of parents out there when I say I want my children to excel in everything they do. My wish for them is that they would be happy, healthy, and able to do the things they love. I don’t think that’s bad or unhealthy on my part. There is nothing wrong with wanting your kids to succeed.

Here’s where my desire to be cautious ends up throwing a wrench in the system.

You’ve all heard the stories of the want-to-be-entertainer who left home with stars in their eyes, showed up in New York or Los Angeles, and just basically tried to survive with part-time jobs while they waited for their “big break.” I can almost guarantee you that for a majority of those people, their “big break” never came. I don’t have stats to back up that claim, I just feel like it’s true. Just showing up somewhere does not mean that you will succeed there. Proximity to a culture does not entrench you in it.

I’ve told Trae thousands of times that I believe in him and that I want him to succeed. I’ve let him know that he has the skills and talents to do the things he wants to do. That’s not lip service or the “you-can-do-anything-you-set-your-mind-to” lie we sell to people. He actually, really does.

On the flip side, I’ve also told him a number of times what I didn’t want for him. I’ve told him that I didn’t want him to follow the same “big break” plan. I’ve let him know that one of my fears is that he’d have to try to afford to pay for some crazy expensive, super tiny apartment on a part-time salary while he hopes that this or that role would come through. I’ve told him (in no uncertain terms really) that he needs other plans outside of acting so that he can take care of himself while he waits for the acting thing to pay off.

I’ve told him that he needs backup plans.

On it’s face, this seems like sage advice. It’s good to have something in your back pocket that you can fall back on should you need it. It doesn’t feel like this is inherently bad or evil. But underneath …

My Role

One of the great things about life is that it is a constant classroom. You can always learn something from someone in just about any situation.

Just the other day I learned that, as a leader, it is my job in all situations to be coach, counselor, and cheerleader to those I lead. Parenting is no different. It’s my job to prepare my children for what the world will throw their way. I need to let them know that the world is tough, that no one owes them anything, and that the industry they want to be a part of is a cutthroat business. It’s my responsibility to prepare them for what lies ahead and then let them go to live in their abilities to make their thing happen. I need to be there for them when they have questions and be able to talk them through what they are experiencing. I need to be their biggest supporter in all things.

What my job is not is to project my own fears and insecurities onto their dreams. What kind of help do I provide in doing that? What good does it do? What does it tell them about my belief in them and the skills, talents, and God-given abilities they have if I tell them that they need to have some other plan because chances are what they want to do won’t work out?

All that does is show my children that I don’t believe that they can do what it is that they want to do. That I don’t trust enough in the skills, talents, ability, and work ethic they have been gifted with to be able to succeed. Every time I do this I place a little bit more of my doubt on top of the already heavy weight of their dreams. It makes it just that much harder for them to break through to a place where they believe.

That is no way to lead them.

Their gifts and talents were given to them by God. And here I am trying to supplant God and tell my kids that I have a better plan for their lives. That they better watch out because I’m not sure that what God has put in their heart is enough to sustain them. I’m ultimately showing my children and the world that I don’t really trust God to be able to take care of them. God gave my children to me to raise up and train and to provide my knowledge to them but he didn’t do that so that I would stop trusting Him with them. If I can trust God with my life (and I do) then why can’t I trust Him with their lives?

Unquenchable and Unwavering

At the end of the day I want my children to have an unquenchable desire for what they are called to do and an unwavering belief that they will succeed. God has given them everything they need for that to happen.

Maybe they will end up doing exactly what they are thinking they will do right now. Maybe they won’t. Maybe their dreams will change. That’s okay. They’re kids. They don’t have to have it all figured out yet. Shoot, I didn’t know what I really wanted to do as a career until the end of my sophomore year in college. Why do I insist on them having it figured out as teenagers?

The important thing for me is that I don’t squash their dreams. That in my fear of life I don’t make them fear theirs. That I always provide a safe place for them should their plans not work out. I need to provide direction as a coach, wisdom as a counselor, and support as a cheerleader. Then I just need to get out of the way and watch what God does.

It’s going to be awesome.