Taylor Swift: Miss Americana is the new Netflix documentary that reveals the intimate details of the star’s life as she rose to fame, faced challenges, and found the true impact her voice can have. Since I’m a mother of two songwriting daughters, the movie made me happy and proud that they find inspiration in her. Although the movie contains mature content and is not meant for children, it also contains some valuable lessons that I made sure to share in small clips with my children.
Have a goal in mind. Hard work, focus, drive and determination make a difference.
My daughters play music and they are learning to be songwriters. They both have had songs place in county-level competitions, which moved on to be considered on the state level. The older one even played an original song that she wrote and composed at an open mic in Nashville this past summer. She’s hooked on the excitement of the stage. Unfortunately, she had to cancel a wintertime open mic due to the flu, and she looks forward to signing up again.
While there in the summer, we stopped by The Bluebird Cafe in Green Hills of Nashville, Tennessee, to see where Taylor Swift got her start. They asked why she became famous? What were the specific reasons that she was so lucky?
When we watched the beginning of Miss Americana together, it helped answer those questions, and it showed that being a successful artist is the result of drive and determination. Being in the right place at the right time can lead to a serendipitous break, but it cannot create that star quality of having ambition.
Taylor Swift reflects on the impact that her desire to be seen as a good girl and as a good songwriter had on her drive and ambition, as well as the influence it had on her emotional wellbeing.
Throughout her early career, she was happy when she received praise. When she worked harder to get more praise, and she achieved that goal, she wanted more.
She attributes her success to the pressure she put on herself to beat her previous successes and to grow as an artist, while also examining the role that praise and rewards had in her start as a celebrity.
I found this part to be a valuable reminder that as a parent, praise can play a significant role in developing ambition in children. When children feel rewarded for their efforts, it can make them work harder to receive more of it. Trying to become good at something is never easy. Doubts will creep in, and it’s easy to become unfocused.
Praise can help make any success in songwriting feel special, and it can make the journey to become an artist well worth it.
After seeing a clip from a country music ceremony, my daughter pointed out that all the winners were blonde, and she dramatically exclaimed that it was hopeless for her to ever succeed in music with her brown hair.
A few minutes later, Taylor Swift began sharing her own insecurities and how hard it can be to always see photos of herself.
This was the opportune time to have a heart-to-heart about how we all feel less than perfect sometimes. There will always be people who don’t like you and bullies who want to tear you down. However, sharing your talents with the world matters, and it’s worth trying to overcome the negativity.
Watching the behind-the-scenes moments in the recording studio showed the significance of team collaboration. My daughter asked why Taylor Swift was sitting in a small room eating a burrito and talking to another person? I explained that they were in a recording studio, where thoughts are bounced off one another, and where great ideas happen through a long process of brainstorming.
One of the hardest things for my children is learning to receive constructive feedback for their song lyrics or musical compositions, even from a vocal coach/songwriting instructor. However, listening to others can be a valuable exercise in the creative process. Being humble and having a good burrito helps.
To be truly happy, the motivation to achieve goals must come from within.
No amount of praise or applause will bring happiness that sustains, even though it can help pave the way to fame. As Taylor Swift finds her voice in the documentary, she learns to satisfy her desire to make the world a better place. She chooses to challenge those who tell her to be a good girl because being good doesn’t always make things right.
I was happy to see her find her intrinsic motivation and to no longer rely on others to tell her if her success was good enough. My children weren’t really old enough to watch this part, and this lesson is something they must figure out for themselves.
With a theme of Taylor Swift learning to love and appreciate herself, the movie’s title Miss Americana could be a play on a pageant title since her childhood fame put her in the spotlight with an intense pressure to perform.
I never was a pageant contestant, although I did enter to be Miss Green Hills USA of Nashville, Tennessee in my early 20’s. With my 34th birthday this week, I can relate to going through a decade in my 20’s of comparing my choices to others’ expectations of me, and finally in my 30’s understanding that those opinions aren’t relevant to who I am.
Today, I’m no pop star, and I might not catch my daughters’ attention in the same way that Taylor Swift can, but I’m glad to see the values she has that will continue to inspire my children as they grow up loving her music.
Is Miss Americana appropriate for children?
Although I did show certain age appropriate clips to my children, the movie does deal with mature content. It covers eating disorders, has inappropriate language, talks about violence towards women, and shows adult beverages. If you are going to show any to your children, preview it first to know the exact moments when you should fast forward.