"Mommy, to be famous you have to start at the beginning of your life," my 7-year-old said to me the other day as we talked about child stars on the Disney Channel.
"I guess we're all out of luck, then," I said smiling and pulling her in tightly for a bear hug.
In our star-obsessed culture, it is not unusual that children would want to emulate their favorite character on television, or a pop star, like Taylor Swift. But, at the same time, it is important for us as parents to make sure they understand that these are not what they should be striving for at their age.
While creativity in the arts, proficiency at sports, and other talents that our children have should be nurtured and encouraged, this shouldn't be to the exclusion of other things like school, friends and family. I think our job as parents is to expose our children to a myriad of opportunities so they can find what fits - is it soccer, dance, guitar, theater, running? But at the end of the day, we want them to be well-rounded. I want them to ride bikes, get muddy, build forts and have sleepovers.
When I see Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and other child stars who have crashed and burned in a dramatic public way reminiscent of a Greek tragedy, I think about how these stories rarely ever turn out well. Few young people can handle the responsibility and demands of public life, let alone the sacrifices required to give up youthful endeavors in favor of stardom.
I watch the teens my daughters admire now, and sometimes, I say a quiet prayer in my head that they won't end up in an entertainment magazine with a cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other disappointing the masses of little girls who want to be just like them.
As I hold my baby in my arms for a fleeting moment before she pulls away, I think to myself that in her mother's eyes she already is a superstar.
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including two on motherhood. Find her here Mondays.