My consistent view remains that a baby with the greatest potential still needs to have the nurturing environment to bring out the best in him, especially in his formative years which is commonly defined as the first 6 years.
Without that, it doesn't mean he cannot achieve great things in future. But just think about the advantages he may have in life if his formative years are better.
Now, what about a child who has the good fortune of a loving and nurturing environment right from the start of his life, even if he has no exceptional potential (read: no special talent)? He probably would have a high chance of being more successful academically and/or in life in future than a guy who comes from a less nurturing environment.
Of course, we may all define 'successful life' differently, and we also can't deny the sheer willpower of an individual who wants to make a positive change to his life, despite his family environment. But it still doesn't change the fact that a child from a more nurturing environment should have a certain headstart.
Okay, I know I am fast-forwarding to the conclusion already and skipping the entire argument. But the conclusion is the objective of this post.
If a child who has a great potential in art was not nurtured or given opportunities to better himself when he was younger, will he be able to learn when he is 18? Of course he can, and if he is very determined, he may even be able to achieve to his fullest potential. But if he was nurtured in this area right from a young age, then by the time he is 18, perhaps he could have achieved more.
As the Chinese saying goes - '望子成 龙'. So one of the ways I express my love is through my efforts to nurture them and bring out their very best. In every way.
When it comes to my boys' development, I don't hasten them. But I also don't adopt the attitude of 'all kids will learn this and that by the time they are 10'. I believe in the importance of positive stimulations and I am constantly on lookout for strengths and weaknesses to nurture.
As one of my most cherished beliefs goes... 'It doesn't matter whether I can do more or better than the next guy. What matters the most is if I have tried my best and I have reached my fullest potential. Then there are no regrets.'
That is the attitude I like to instill in my boys. Slowly, but surely, they will get it. Nowadays, M will say to me 'I want to do my best in xx' whenever he meets a challenge. I can't be more pleased.