Solid as a rock: Ricky Martin with son Valentino at Bronte Beach. Photo: Snapper Media
When music star Ricky Martin is asked if he would ever consider entering his sons in the upcoming children's version of hit reality television show The Voice, he laughs. ''They're too small!''
Martin, 42, is back as a coach on the third season of Channel Nine's singing competition. Although he will not be joining Joel Madden and Delta Goodrem on The Voice Kids, he has sage advice for stage parents: don't make your children try out for it.
''If you see that your child is really drawn to the stage and to music, just facilitate the path and the journey but never force them into anything,'' he said.
The pop singer is happy for his twin five-year-old boys, Matteo and Valentino, to be performers when they are older but he will not be steering them in either direction.
''I would support my kids if they wanted to be artists but I would never push them into something. They'd have to pull me,'' he said.
''It's not about the mum or the dad forcing the child into anything. Even if you see how talented your child is, you can't force them into an audition. It can be very overwhelming for them.''
In the past two years, several reality television shows for children have hit our screens. Junior MasterChef is all about primary school children, The Biggest Loser is set to feature obese children and Australia's Next Top Model, Australian Idol, The X Factor and Australia's Got Talent combine adults and young people.
Kimberley O'Brien, principal child psychologist at the Quirky Kid Clinic in Sydney, said The Voice Kids was ''a great chance to get kids some screen time'' but agrees with Martin that the child has to make the choice.
''Sometimes parents insist that they have to do these things and the kids go in dragging their feet,'' she said.
''It's a really fine line when parents are being so pushy and you can see the kids are just not driving. It's hard for the child to say how they feel when parents are so emotionally involved.''
The third season of The Voice and the first season of The Voice Kids will screen this year.