How to Raise a True “Star”
by Lucinda Secrest McDowell
The text from my actor daughter brought a tear to my eye: “Rejection can be God’s protection – He has something better for me!” Audition season had been tough, and the ups and downs of casting was certainly a roller coaster ride. I couldn’t have been more grateful for Maggie’s groundedness and grace.
Then I came home and opened my mail. I had received the new book from my friend Cheri Fuller “What a Girl Needs from Her Mom” – and it was encouraging to read her interview with me last year for the chapter “A Mom Who Nurtures Her Daughter’s Potential and Encourages Her to Dream Big.”
We mamas can do only so much, and then our kids take their own wings and fly. But we can do something in those early years. Here is Cheri’s account of my interview from that book about one of my daughters (I have two):
“From the moment Maggie was born, Lucinda played music and sang to her baby girl every day. Every night she sang her to sleep. As she was growing up, Maggie absolutely loved music. At age three, she was singing into a wooden spoon as her microphone and using their hearth as her stage. She was born loving to perform.
“We were purposeful about encouraging her gifts but not pursuing them professionally while she was a child. One the one hand, we wanted her to have training in her God-given gifts, but on the other hand, we wanted her grounded in her identity in Christ.” Lucinda told me, “which for us meant she’d take advantage of opportunities like camp, dance lessons, and being on the dance team at high school.
They gave her voice lessons at the Hartt School of Music and Maggie was also in the church choir, where she learned a lot of classical music. As a child she once told her parents she wanted to grow up and be a Star! They encouraged her to hone her talents but also to have a balanced life and be well rounded.
“Thinking of a child going into the arts can be interesting for parents; you don’t usually dream that for your child,” Lucinda said, “Who will really make it? And what is the price of fame? We felt her acting, music and dancing were gifts. But we wanted her to develop as a person and not just Maggie the singer.”
By her junior year of high school, Maggie had been in several school and local productions. “If you really want to pursue a triple major in singing, acting and dancing, go explore another part of the country (not New York City),” her folks advised. After audition, admission and four years of hard work at Belmont University in Nashville, Maggie graduated with a degree in Musical Theatre and moved to New York City where she is now a professional equity actor, singer and dancer.
Here are 5 key ways this mama guided her daughter:
- Encourage her to Dream Big. Know who your daughter is and who she isn’t, and help her discover her unique strengths, weaknesses, insecurities, and gifts. Help her grow her talents, but make sure the priority is developing into a whole person.
- Don’t let your focus be to make something happen or pressure your daughter. Let her live her life as a child rather than your living through her.
- Learn her language of love so you can be her encourager. Some of that has to do with being there with her: taking her to auditions and building her up in the midst of rejection.
- Help her know her true identity. “It can be a minefield out there,” as Lucinda says, “but Maggie can handle those pressures because she has a foundation of being a person first, of her faith in God, and knowing this job doesn’t define her. She’s also a wife and daughter, a sister, aunt and friend.”
- Build into your child the importance of being kind and compassionate, reaching out to help others.
“Go after your dream,” Lucinda always told her four children. “Whether you apply at this college or graduate school or audition for a play, or go to a foreign country to help others, or compete in Special Olympics, remember: Nothing ventured, nothing gained. What’s the worst that can happen? Even if you don’t succeed, it’s okay to take risks and go for it! And, by the way, nobody ever died of embarrassment.”*
*excerpt from “What A Girl Needs from Her Mom” by Cheri Fuller
(back to Cindy) Let me be clear. Daughter Maggie is where she is today due to her own hard work, talent, choices and attitude. I post this in honor of both upcoming Mother’s Day and Maggie’s May Birthday. All of my children are now grown and scattered across the country doing amazing things that fit their gifting and personalities. My time of influence is greatly reduced, though I certainly don’t let that prevent me from praying daily for them and occasionally offering a bit of advice. Smile.
If you are a mama, aunt or granny of a girl, I think you will find all the chapters in “What A Girl Needs from Her Mom” very helpful. And author Cheri Fuller has also written a book “What A Boy Needs from His Mom.” Now honey, I could tell a few stories about those boys of mine…..
under the mercy, Cindy
©2015 Lucinda Secrest McDowell