The biggest source of anxiety for many parents of child actors is that their kid will miss out on “a normal life.”
I’m not sure what a normal life really is, but I do understand this worry. When our children are born, we wish certain things for them: happiness, rich experiences, life-long friendships, memories they can treasure. We expect that those things come from familiar places: school, school-based activities, school friends… there’s a pattern here!
When a kid starts to get serious about being a professional actor, it often disrupts their “normal” school experience, and along with it, many of those “normal” experiences that we hoped they would have. Parents worry that their child will miss out on what was important to them in their own formative years.
This is only human—we want for our kids what has been meaningful for us. Or even if our experience was not great, we have a vision for how it could be better for our kids—but it still tends to look like an idealized version of our own, “normal” experience.
When Dove was 13, she campaigned me for the entire year to move to Los Angeles so she could have a shot at her dream of being an actor and singer. One of my many concerns was about giving up the so-called “normal life” we had.
“Wouldn’t you miss your friends?” I’d ask. “Yes—but I’ll make new ones,” she’d say.
We were already doing online school. As is the case for many creative/different kids, regular school was not a happy place for her. She’d opted for homeschooling in 7th grade, then skipped 8th grade via testing and was in 9th online. Normal was already behind us in many ways.
We tried “normal” school again when we moved to LA that next year, but it was never a good fit, and luckily she was able to test out of it early. By the time Dove was 16 she was legally complete with school, and happily acting full-time.
Normal is like a one-size-fits-all piece of clothing that only seems to fit a few people really well. The rest of us feel like we are either lost in it, or constrained by how tight it is.
When I talk with young actors who are either still under 18 and pursuing their passion full time, or young adult actors remembering their own unorthodox experience of balancing school while pursuing the dream, none of them wish they had opted for the “normal” life.
Normal may be wonderful for some people, but for some kids, the normal path is miserable.
Happiness, rich experiences, life-long friendships, memories our kids can treasure: it turns out these are all available through different paths. Some less “normal” than others.
Normal can be sweet. But the good news is there are many different kinds of sweet out there when it comes to living a life—and “normal” is only one of them.
PS—my girl DID make new friends in LA, and we all have given up on normal as a standard. It never did fit us well anyway.
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.
Invest a little in your kid’s future today.
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