X Factor May Be Cruel, But Is Blindly Championing Your Child's Dreams Simply Unkind?

12/10/2011 15:04 | Updated 22 May 2015
Amelia Lily on X FactorRex Features

As 16-year-old X Factor hopeful Amelia Lily's parents brand the show cruel for kicking off their daughter on the first live show, I think it's time to ask if blindly championing your child's dreams might be just as unkind.

To be fair to the pink haired singer she does have talent, something which cannot be said for many of the hopefuls who queue up to be humiliated on live television, no doubt as a result of misplaced praise dished out by their indulgent families. But even so her parents do bear responsibility for nurturing her dreams of stardom in an industry renowned for dishing out vicious knock backs.

Her father accused the show of leading his daughter 'up the garden path', before unceremoniously dropping her. But shouldn't he, as her dad, have been the one with enough maturity and wisdom to warn his daughter that this path might not be paved with gold, but might instead drop her off the edge of a cliff?

Of course it is a good idea to encourage your child, but as a parent you also have a duty to inject a bit of bit of realism into your child's teenage fantasies. If your son is tone deaf, surely it is kinder to gently steer him away from the baying audience of a talent show, rather than push him out into the spotlight whilst wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with his name in block capitals?


Equally if you feel your daughter is too young to cope with being canned from a television talent show, then don't let her enter. If you do, then don't blame the show for using her for ratings. That is the producer's job, it is your job to protect her feelings and look out for her psychological wellbeing. After all this is hardly series one and it's no secret that everyone but the winner will inevitably have their dreams shattered at some point.


I recall when I was a teenager my secret ambition was to become a model. I loved fashion, adored make up and was in thrall to the 80s supermodels Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell. However, had I revealed this dream my parents would have laughed me out of the room. I was short, chubby and far from cover girl beautiful.

Some might say it would have been cruel to crush this schoolgirl fantasy, but I think they would have been doing their job as parents. What is the point of encouraging someone along a path they have no hope of finishing?

I am not advocating squashing all your child's hopes and dreams, but if a kid can't draw don't line him up for art school. And if you daughter can't hack being kicked in the teeth by a reality show, then perhaps her dreams of a career in show biz ought to be nipped in the bud.

I am frequently appalled and horrified by the parade of no hopers who line up for shows like X Factor and Britain's got Talent. Why is it that no loving parent ever tapped them on the shoulder and gently suggested that perhaps singing and dancing wasn't for them, and maybe accountancy or horticulture might be more the ticket?

Why did their families wait and allow Gary Barlow or Michael McIntyre to break the bad news?

I understand that no one wants to throw cold water on their baby's dreams, but honestly isn't it better coming from mum and dad than on national TV, or at your first job interview? I would much rather know where my talents lay before attempting to flog them to the wider world, than live in blissful ignorance until some less than well meaning stranger revealed my inadequacies.

It is not a parent's job to be your friend and pretend that as you wail into a microphone in front of the bathroom mirror you sound just like Beyonce. It is our job to break it gently that while you can sing in the shower to your heart's content, it might be a good idea to shut up when the water turns off.


Even if our children do have talent it is our job to protect them if they don't have the maturity or personality to back it up. We need to take our role as the bad guys more seriously.


Sure Amelia Lily might have railed and cried had her parents told her she wasn't ready to enter the X Factor, but at least it would have been in the privacy of her own bedroom, rather than the tears falling in front of millions of voyeuristic TV viewers.

What do you think?

Are parents who allow their children on talent shows, propelling them towards heart break and/or ridicule at too young an age to cope?


Suggest a correction