9 Tips For Raising Amazing Kids

By Courtney Daly-Pavone March 20, 2024

*This article is a 3 minute read

I'm fascinated by family dynamics, and great parenting! I've always said that other parents can be your greatest resource for schools, classes, child rearing and more. My hairdresser Curtis Venters told me about his wife Elena who is an artist, and their creative kids. His son is a Jazz Studies major at San Diego State University, and his daughter is a theatre major at San Diego School of Creative & Performing Arts. My son studies art, and thanks to Curtis, he now takes lessons with his wife Elena. I interviewed Elena and her children Clarence age eighteen, and Amara age sixteen. Elena shared her parenting style, and I uncovered a common thread, or the secret sauce to parenting effectively!

What's The Secret To Successful Parenting?

Ingredient #1 Be in Sync With Your Kid!

Great parents are in tune with their kids. They encourage them to try new things, but they also recognize their strengths and gifts.When Elena noticed her three year old son liked to pretend to play the trumpet, she took him to a music class. 

"He asked to play when he was three and I honored the request.   As years passed he asked to play other instruments, but our advice was to keep him on the trumpet.  There were so many great musicians working with him I encouraged him to stick with it, and we coupled other activities such as sports.  His last two years in high school he became very passionate about playing music," said Elena.


Clarence told me that he is laser focused on pursuing a music career.

"I hope to become one of the greatest musicians the world has ever known, or at the very least the greatest I can get to," he said.

Ingredient #2 Faith  

Have you ever had a plant that looked like it was dying? You tried to manipulate it, make it grow the direction you wanted it to grow, and just when you're about to give up on the plant and read its last rites, it sprouted a new bud. Children grow in their own way, and parenting and gardening have faith in common.

Clarence credits his parents for helping him find his path.

"My parents have always taught me to have patience and faith in what you believe in."

Ingredient #3 Persistence

Amara has the confidence to pursue her dreams.

"Growing up I consistently heard from my parents that if I want it I can have it. Persistence, persistence, persistence. There was never an obstacle that we couldn’t overcome to arrive at our ideal destination."


Ingredient #4 Be Flexible

According to Elena, It's also important to honor a child's wish to change their career path. Amara started high school as an art major, but decided it wasn't going to be her focus.

"Amara came to me a bit frustrated that I signed her up for so many art classes.  She said I never asked her what she wanted to do.  So we had an agreement that she can present her interest and it would help if she could even find the programs and send them to me.  But if she didn’t do that, then I choose. I started getting emails about her being accepted in theatre programs and she changed her major in school to theatre.  She was in her first show with a big role and we were all blown away by her performance.  She was so successful and accomplished so much in a short period of time. It inspires me to see how determined and persistent she is."

I asked Amara what made her fall in love with theatre. 

"I was inspired by the intimacy actors share with strangers. As an audience member, experiencing the catharsis by simply sitting in the house implored me to know how it feels on stage," she said.

Ingredient #5 Being Present In Their Lives 

According to Elena, parenting is a team effort for the Venters.

"My husband Curtis is an amazing supporter.  He shows up for everything and encourages them often.  They have a host of brothers sisters, aunties, uncles, grandparents and friends that cheer them on.  In addition to family support, many school teachers and private instructors have been amazing at sharing opportunities and resources." 

Ingredient #6 Community Support

Here are some of the Socal resources the Venters tapped into: 

Fernando Pullum Community Art Center

The Young Lions Jazz Conservatory

Summer Music Institute San Diego Winds

Summer Jazz Workshops @ Francis Parker

The Rock Church (photography classes) 

North Coast Rep Theatre

San Diego School of Creative & Performing Arts/SDSCPA

San Diego Junior Theatre

The Old Globe Summer Programs

Debbie Allen Dance Academy

California Ballet


Ingredient #7 Family Unity

Elena states, "I learned the importance of connecting through eating dinner together as a family through a group called MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers).  One of the most important lessons that I learned in my life is the importance of growing spirituality.  So planting seeds of spiritual enlightenment is something that happens almost daily and I urge them to study and practice daily on their own, especially as they mature.  It makes my heart smile to see them reading so many incredible books in search of wisdom.  Also, I loved taking the kids to school and picking them up, so I did that.  It was a great opportunity to teach, share and check in with them emotionally."

Ingredient #8 Explore The Possibilities

According to Elena, "Nurture their interest and discover all the ways that it contributes to life. Sometimes when kids are especially interested in the arts, parents get nervous about them being able to make a living from it (understandably so).  But really look at all of the possibilities. There are so many ways to explore your gifts.  Help them see the possibilities."  

Ingredient #9 Family Values

I know a lot of people don't like the term family values, but it is a key factor for families according the Elena.

"There are practical lessons that help instill core values so WHEN life shakes us up we have something to stand on and offer us hope to keep thriving.  Take time to share your visions for life and know “when one wins, we all win”.  I remind my family that we are a team and we support one another as we strive to live our best life."

It's a privilege to have candid interviews with families like the Venters. Macaroni Kid is about community, learning and growing from each other. While I've had the honor to get to know them personally, it is with great pleasure that I can share their story with you.

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