Behind the curtain — the real lowdown of what show biz families go through — is a topic rarely discussed. From the early days of Hollywood to the present, child actors have always been a significant part of the entertainment industry. They’re often cast in movies, television shows, commercials and plays because of their natural talent and ability to connect with audiences. Being a child actor is not without its ups and downs, but what about the families and how they have to adjust?
Parents who have children in the entertainment industry face unique challenges that are often overlooked by those outside of the show business world. These parents must balance their child’s career with their education, emotional well-being and overall development. They also have to navigate complex legal agreements and contracts while advocating for their child’s best interests.
Believe me, it’s not easy. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to NOT have children in show business. But then I realize that if it’s not show biz, maybe it would be sports, or something else that has different challenges. The information in this article can pertain to just about any family with children in extra curricular activities.
Let’s break it down…
Balancing work and education: Children in show business have to balance their work commitments with their education. This can be particularly challenging when they’re required to travel for long periods or attend rehearsals during school hours. Parents may have to work closely with their child’s school and tutors to ensure that their child’s education is not compromised.
The school requirements can vary from state to state and even district to district. A child is allowed a certain amount of non-excused absent days. Where I grew up, if a child actor was going to be on set for more than three consecutive days, the production would need to put a tutor in place. Oftentimes, the production didn’t want to spend the money for a tutor, so they would have the child work for two days, then back to school for one day, then have the child work the day after. The problem with this is that those three days of missing school were counted as unexcused absences because the child wasn’t in school and did not have a tutor.
– Communicate with the school – Inform the school about your child’s work schedule and discuss options for making up missed work or attending school remotely. Some schools offer online or distance learning options that can be tailored to your child’s schedule.
– Plan ahead – Work with your child’s agent and production team to plan their work schedule in advance and avoid scheduling conflicts with school. Make sure your child has enough time to complete their schoolwork and attend classes.
– Prioritize education – Emphasize the importance of education to your child and help them understand that school should always be a priority. Encourage them to stay on top of their studies and to communicate with their teachers if they need help.
– Hire a tutor – If your child is struggling to keep up with schoolwork due to their work schedule, consider hiring a tutor to help them stay on track. A tutor can help your child with homework, study for exams and stay on top of their academic progress.
– Advocate for your child – If your child is facing disciplinary action or other consequences due to unexcused absences, advocate for their needs and work with the school to find a solution that supports both their academic and professional goals.
Emotional pressure: Children in show business may be subject to intense emotional pressure, including rejection and criticism. Parents may have to provide additional emotional support to their children to help them cope with these pressures.
The children are often expected to work long hours, memorize lines and perform stunts (skateboarding, BMX, etc.) They also face rejection and criticism from directors, producers and even fans if they don’t meet their expectations. This can lead to stress, anxiety and depression among child actors who struggle with maintaining a balance between their personal lives and work.
In addition to this, they may also face unrealistic beauty standards that put them under immense pressure to look perfect all the time.
Giving emotional support is just as important as providing physical needs. As a parent, it’s crucial to be present and supportive for your children in their daily lives. Parents can provide emotional support by showing love, care, and concern towards their children. It can help them develop a sense of security and confidence in themselves.
One way parents can show emotional support is by actively listening to them. When kids feel heard and understood, they’re more likely to open up about their thoughts and feelings. This creates an opportunity for parents to guide them through any problems or challenges they may face. Additionally, praising your child’s efforts rather than just the outcome helps build self-esteem and encourages them to try new things without fear of failure.
Unfortunately, providing so much support can actually take a toll on the parents. In most cases, the parents work and need to provide for their family. If a majority of their time is spent with the child, when do the parents have time to earn a living?
– Make time for quality interactions – Although you may not have a lot of free time, it’s important to make the most of the time you do have with your child. Try to have regular one-on-one interactions with your child, whether it’s during mealtime or before bed. Make sure your child feels heard and validated during these interactions.
– Stay connected throughout the day – Even if you’re not physically with your child, you can still stay connected throughout the day. Send a quick text or call during breaks at work to check in and see how your child is doing. This will help your child feel connected to you and reassured that you’re thinking of them.
– Create a safe space – Make sure your child knows that they can come to you for emotional support whenever they need it. Create a safe space where your child can share their feelings and experiences without fear of judgment.
– Be present when you’re together – When you’re spending time with your child, make sure you’re fully present. Put away distractions like phones and TVs and give your child your full attention. This will help your child feel valued and heard.
– Seek outside support – If you’re unable to provide the emotional support your child needs, seek outside support. This could be through a school counselor, therapist or mentor. Make sure your child knows that it’s okay to ask for help and that you support them in getting the help they need.
Impact on family dynamics: Show business can put a strain on family dynamics. For example, siblings may feel neglected if one child is getting more attention due to their success in the industry. There are time commitments, sibling relationships and even public scrutiny.
The key to maintaining a healthy family dynamic when one child is in show business is to prioritize communication, balance, support, education, flexibility, and maintaining personal interests and involvement. By working together and remaining adaptable, families can successfully navigate the unique challenges of the entertainment industry while maintaining a strong and healthy family dynamic.
– Communication -Open and honest communication between all family members is essential. Regular family meetings can help everyone stay connected and share their feelings and concerns.
– Balance – Families should work together to find a balance between their child’s career and their family life. This may involve setting clear boundaries around work hours and prioritizing family time.
– Involvement – While it’s important for parents to support their child’s career, they should also make an effort to maintain their own personal interests and involvement outside of their child’s career.
– Education – Parents should educate themselves about the entertainment industry and the laws and regulations that govern child labor. This can help them make informed decisions about their child’s career and ensure their child’s safety and well-being.
– Flexibility – Families should remain flexible and adaptable, as schedules and opportunities in the entertainment industry can change quickly. Having a plan in place for unexpected events can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Financial concerns: Show business can be financially lucrative, but it’s also unpredictable. Parents may have to navigate complex contracts and ensure that their child is being compensated fairly. They may also have to manage their child’s earnings and invest wisely to ensure long-term financial stability.
– Create a budget – Developing a budget can help parents manage their finances and plan for the unpredictable nature of their child’s income. A budget can help parents track their expenses, set aside funds for future expenses and prioritize spending.
– Save for the future – It’s important for parents to set aside money for their child’s future. This can include saving for college or setting up a trust fund. Parents should also consider setting aside an emergency fund to help cover unexpected expenses.
– Seek professional advice – Working with a financial advisor or accountant can help parents navigate the complex tax laws and regulations that come with their child’s income. A financial advisor can also provide guidance on investing and planning for the future.
– Monitor expenses – Parents should keep a close eye on their expenses and look for areas where they can cut costs. For example, they may be able to negotiate lower rates for acting classes or find more affordable travel options for auditions.
– Encourage their child to diversify their skills – Encouraging their child to develop a range of skills in addition to acting, such as singing or dancing, can increase their chances of getting more work and earning a steady income.
Lack of privacy: Children in show business are often in the public eye, which means that their privacy can be compromised. This can be particularly challenging for families who value their privacy and want to protect their children from unwanted attention.
– Establish clear boundaries – Parents can establish clear boundaries with the media and paparazzi. They can communicate with the media outlets to request that their child’s privacy is respected, and that they are not to be followed or photographed outside of work-related events. Additionally, parents can establish clear guidelines for how they and their child will interact with the public, and what kind of information they will share about their personal lives.
– Control access to information – Parents can limit the amount of information that is available about their family and their child. They can set up privacy settings on their social media accounts, avoid posting personal information online, and limit interviews and appearances on talk shows or other media outlets.
– Hire security – Parents may consider hiring security personnel to protect their family’s privacy. This can include security guards or private investigators who can monitor and protect their family’s personal space, as well as ensure that their child’s safety is not compromised by overzealous fans or paparazzi.
– Educate their child – Parents can educate their child on how to handle their privacy and interact with the media. This can include teaching their child to politely decline interviews or photo requests, or to avoid posting personal information online.
– Seek support – Parents can seek support from other families with high profile children in show business or from professionals, such as publicists or lawyers, who have experience in managing privacy concerns.
Despite all of the challenges above, families of child actors have the opportunity to watch their child pursue their passion and potentially achieve great success. With careful planning, communication and support, families can navigate the wonderful world of the entertainment industry and help their child thrive both personally and professionally.