Stars shine brightly in our night sky, they have been known to guide people to their destination, and they are ‘cosmic energy engines’ according to National Geographic, their luminosity makes them stand out. Stars come in many sizes just like our human stars.
Raising a human star, a child who is destined for great things in sport, academics, music or fine arts can be both challenging and joyous – just like raising any kid you say?
The passion that our human stars have for their chosen field can sometimes lead to burnout.
As parents how do we help them keep their spark, balance their social lives, school requirements, work and their passion?
I am in the privileged position of being able to look back on a recently completed VCE now that my 19-year-old daughter finished year 12. We got through it as a family. Her passion was for academics and leadership and her zest for life a whirlwind of energy. The problem was she never switched off. She has always seemed to have a stop and go button and nothing in between. Relaxation is doing a HIT workout and breaking a sweat. Chilling on the couch is for lazy people.
Her body presented major challenges in the last three years of her schooling and really crashed in the last four months of year 12. She suffers from a rare nerve condition that sometimes takes out a whole suite of her nerves, rendering her unable to use her hands. This was the challenge in August 2018 when she lost complete use of her right hand and fingers. Coming into the main part of the VCE year somewhat disabled, with loads of SACS, plus exam prep, for a girl who was completely study focused was devastating. For years my wife and I had been having conversations with her about deep rest, slowing her adrenals, finding balance and then suddenly it was forced upon her. Her body just gave up. It wasn’t just her hand, but her neck, her energy, and even her brain due to the powerful medication she was on, didn’t work properly. Of course there were also the endless visits to specialists, physio, exercise physiologist, myotherapist appointments, but that was just par for the course. The emotional tragedy of her body collapsing just when she needed it most was heartbreaking for all. She knew what she wanted to do in life, and was pumped to get the ATAR that would get her entry to the dietetics course at La Trobe – we just had to work out how to support her to get there. Anyway, that’s another whole essay. But, for you, as parents of stars, it is important to help your kids achieve balance – whatever that may be. We all struggle with this but as adults we have the life experience and can pull ourselves into the bigger picture to help them work through these challenges.
So, how to balance?
It’s all about scheduling, and scheduling for relaxation and down time, is just as important as diarising competition events, and part time jobs.
What I like to see in a balanced schedule is:
- School work
- Exercise for fun
- Passion activity
- Down time – doing nothing. Yes nothing.
- Catching up with friends
A nice smattering of each of these will keep their mind healthy and their star burning brightly.
Being so close to your star is often a hard gig, especially when teenagers don’t like to listen to their parents. I understand this, sometimes the help they need comes from others; coaches, their best friend’s parents or even performance psychologists! Perhaps passing this article on to your star may help them re-assess their time. Good luck and may your star shine brightly.