One of the hidden challenges of parenting a young actor is the constant juggling that happens behind the scenes to make everything happen. Young actors are part of families, and families have their own needs. Studios have their needs, and so do all the various people who are part of a young actor’s ecosystem. And of course, the young actors themselves have needs—personal, human ones as well as the professional. It’s easy to forget that parents also have needs! Typically, all of these various, real needs—these competing commitments– do not line up easily.
What the public sees is what is published somewhere, often via social media—Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Periscope, Vine… or on entertainment websites or in magazines. Red carpet events, selfies with co-stars. There is a common if irrational assumption that nothing is happening if we don’t see it or hear about it. Of course this couldn’t be further from the truth! Most projects take many months before the people involved are allowed to speak publicly about them. And most of what fills the day of any person, young actor or not, is not going to be published, because it is private.
This week my daughter Claire graduated from college and our extended family came to Los Angeles from the Seattle area to be part of the celebration. It was a week filled with love and the best kind of family time. I put on my “family hat” and reveled in having so many people I love in the same place together. Like many LA transplants, we do not get family visiting very often! It’s been a delicious week.
My family hat was on so effectively that I completely spaced out and missed a professional commitment, to my complete horror. Like most parents used to juggling complicated lives with many pieces, I’ve become so identified as a highly organized person that it was inconceivable to me that I could just drop a ball. But like all parents, I am human and despite my stellar habits, I forgot to do something important. I noticed how uncomfortable I was with this. And then I reminded myself that staying stuck in an upset state didn’t fix anything, and actually kept me from doing what I could to clean things up.
I think it’s moments like these when we can show our kids, especially our young performers, that it is OK to make a mistake. That we don’t need to beat ourselves up endlessly when we blow something. Yes, we want high standards, and we always want to do our best. But truly no one is perfect, and our kids need to see that it’s not the end of the world when we mess up. That it is actually OK not to be perfect.
Why is this important? Because we are modeling behavior and responses all the time. I was genuinely upset when realized I’d failed to keep my commitment, but even now, with my kids as young adults, I’m still showing them how to recover from what feels like failure. Mistakes are part of life and very few mistakes are genuinely catastrophic.
Young actors often torture themselves for real or imagined mistakes during auditions in particular. But if they can learn something so that they are less likely to make a similar mistake in the future, it takes some of the sting out of it. Learning to shake it off, clean things up where possible, find a lesson, and move on is one of the best skills we can teach our young performers—and ourselves!
My book, The Hollywood Parents Guide, available on Amazon contains everything I wish I’d known when Dove and I started this journey, and will save you untold amounts of time, money, and stress. Full of information you MUST know, it also features stories from parents of other kids who’ve made it!
Or book an hour consulting with me to come up with an individualized plan that takes your own unique needs into account. For about the cost of an hour with a professional acting coach, you can get your questions answered and a road map to help you move forward toward your dream.
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