I am always astonished at the abilities of younger and younger children.  I was watching (for the first time!) an "America's Got Talent" show on TV the other day and a lovely 11 year old girl with an incredible voice was on. Unfortunately, although the song she chose was suitable for her voice and range, it was inappropriate for her age. She played the piano and sang an old rock song from the 60s. Having struggled through piano lessons myself for years, I could appreciate the hard work and effort that went into that performance. Whenever I see extraordinary work like this, I always wonder about the parents. Are they frightening taskmasters or do they allow their children to grow and blossom by giving them help and encouragement and directing their energies in a positive way? Children are emotionally and psychically fragile. What we as parents put them through in their early years can either help them to grow into mature, competent and productive adults or turn them into difficult or even ill people. I would say in this young lady's case, because of her sweet and humble demeanor, that her parents are simply nourishing a great talent (they should be careful about her choice of music though, Miley Cyrus's story is a cautionary tale for all parents).

Also, on the same show, was a dance team made of 9 year olds. You could see the energy and enthusiasm of the young girls as they did a routine which was not as bad as some of the dance numbers I have seen (i.e.not as "sexy", but still of dubious taste), and the outfits were not as bad as they could have been (at least they were covered pretty much), but they had one publicity shot of them in bikinis! Bikinis on 9 year olds on national TV are in flagrantly bad taste. It horrifies me when I see children whose parents do not seem to realize that this is not healthy for them and that they are contributing to an oversexed culture which is preying on children.

Today, I opened an email from Kim Komando, who has a radio show and internet program about computers and the internet. She is very family-friendly and very informative. (I only wish that she would not refer to herself as a digital goddess though, despite her great beauty). She featured a video on a 10 year old chess champion which you might find interesting http://videos.komando.com/watch/3659/viral-videos-10-year-old-beats-chess-master-in-4-minutes?utm_medium=nl&utm_source=tvkim&utm_content=2013-07-24-article-screen-shot-b. It reminds me of a really good documentary called "Chess Kids" which profiles the lives of children who are involved in chess competitions. It well illustrates the difference between pushing your child and encouraging them. I would love to see another documentary about the grown-up chess kids. It would probably give us a lot of insight into parenting.

Then there is the lovely and talented 9 year old (she may be older now) Jackie Evancho http://www.jackieevancho.com/us/videos, whose parents are obviously of great faith (I wish they were more cautious about young Jackie's wardrobe though).

And last, (but of course, not least) is the talented piano prodigy Ryan Yang http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/28/ryan-wang-ellen-piano-video_n_3347946.html (sorry this is from Ellen Degeneres' show), whose great, great love of music and incredibly wise and courteous demeanor seem to indicate really committed, but sensible parenting. At age 5, he is completely relaxed, in control, and thoughtful, a real tribute to his family.

A good thing to remember is that the decision making part of the brain (the frontal lobe) is not fully functional until about age 25, that means that we need to continue parenting until that age. On the one hand, most Americans act like children are miniature adults and allow them too much autonomy (I used to know an 8 year old who terrified and controlled her parents by threatening to call the police if they disciplined her. She was taught to do so by the public school), while  some try to over-control their children. No one is perfect, but we as parents are here to guide, help and encourage our children and not crush or discourage them. They may not have the same talents as the above, but God gave everyone gifts and it is our responsibility and privilege to help our children find and nurture theirs.