‘Doing it for my kids’: The thing that consistently does my head in on The Voice

One of my favourite parts of The Voice is the blind auditions. Every time all four red chairs turn for a singer, I cry my stupid dumb eyes out. (This year, I’ve also enjoyed Keith’s high-pitched giggle.)

One thing I found consistently perplexing, however, was a particular sentiment that kept cropping up when contestants who were parents were asked why they were auditioning. “I’m doing this for my kids,” a lot of them replied. “To make my kids proud.” These two statements would sometimes be followed by my personal favourite: “I want to give my family a better life.”

When all four judges turn around it’s a teary moment.

While these are admirable and heroic sentiments, none of them are good reasons to get into the performing arts industry.

Let me start with: I’m doing this for my kids. Why? If you are a halfway decent parent, you are presumably already doing a lot for your kids: feeding them, loving them, giving them your undivided attention. That’s really all your kids need and want.

Your kids don’t need or want a “famous” parent. (See: Bobbi Kristina Brown, Peaches Geldof, Cameron Douglas.)

Now let’s go to: I want to make my kids proud. This one really tickles me. You see, there comes a time when your kids, as a crucial part of their development, will begin to form the very strong opinion that everything you do is lame. My kids love me, but the only thing they want me to do publicly is Uber them around and buy them snacks.

Now let’s tackle my favourite one: to give my family a better life. Are you crazy? Sure, being a musician is a great life, if you are successful. If you are anything less than successful (which is most of us), it’s a white-knuckle ride, living hand to mouth with no sick pay, no holiday pay and no superannuation.

My point is this: it’s perfectly fine to say, I needed to remember who I was before parenting swallowed me whole.

Thirteen years ago on a celebrity singing show called It Takes Two, Chloe Maxwell, then a mother to two young children of her own plus two stepchildren, expressed it perfectly. She had just performed and was basking in the glow of the judge’s favour. “I’d kind of lost myself in motherhood,” she said, “and just now, I thought, ‘Oh there I am’.” It was honest and it was completely unfiltered by any attempt to signal the virtues of motherhood.

It’s OK to chase your dreams. Just don’t dress it up in faux parenting virtue.

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