For parents of young performers, there’s often so much focus on the child landing or perfecting the big part that they find themselves struggling to find their own place in the process. A strong family support system is an important part of every young actor’s path to success, so you need to begin with an honest assessment of what is behind the pursuit of a career in show business. Assuming you’re in it for your child’s sake and not driven by a misguided personal need, there are two basic schools of thought concerning a parent’s role in show business.
Parents Should Be Seen and Not Heard:
If this is your style, you’re a chauffeur, counselor, and confidante all rolled into one. You let your child’s work stand on its own and are there to celebrate the victories and pick up the pieces when things don’t go according to plan. And they rarely do go according to plan, so be prepared with a strong shoulder to cry on and expertly timed words of encouragement.
One of the common challenges of this approach is that you may be perceived by others as something of a pushover, but know that strength comes in many forms. Yours is being the rock that keeps your young actor grounded and respectful of their colleagues, peers, and the journey to success.
Parents Should Be Seen AND Heard:
If this is your philosophy, you practice in a more direct approach. You’re there to offer constructive criticism, common-sense coaching, and a firm helping hand when the chips are down. And while you have the utmost confidence in your child’s talent, you are a strong advocate for his or her well being on and off the set. People know that if they mess with your kid, they’re messing with you too. Unfortunately, you’re frequently mistaken for the stereotypical stage parent, but like your quieter counterpart, you’ve taught your young performer to respect the professionals and the processes at all levels of the entertainment industry.
Everyday life is stressful enough without the added pressures of show business thrown into the mix. So regardless of which approach is a better match for your personality, it’s important to remember that the entertainment industry is a business that runs on people; do your best to not add more fuel to the fire. Whether you’re dealing with producers and directors, other actors, or production staff and crew, for your child’s sake, it’s important to understand how to get along and play nice. Behavior at all levels should be guided by the rules of common decency and respect. Days (and nights) can be long and arduous for everyone, including your child, so make every effort to respect the work ethic that drives the production. Above all, focus on the work and recognize the humanity involved in each project.