I’m hoping this post prompts discussion, especially amongst parents, and those who wish to be parents someday.
The other day I caught a video in my Youtube suggested playlist for a trailer called, Life After Tomorrow. It’s a documentary that catches up with actresses who formerly played the character of Annie in the Broadway play, Annie.
It seems that many of their careers began and ended with that one experience and that one character (save for Sarah Jessica Parker, the play’s most famous alum). Many experienced heartache both during and after, and could never seem to find another experience that compared to that one. Basically, many of their “careers” peaked around 12. I say peaked, because many got regular jobs later in life, but some still seemed to miss the shiny spotlight.
By the way, most of these women are around my age, meaning when they were on Broadway, things like the internet, Youtube, and digital cameras did not exist, and yet they were still pretty famous.
Nowadays you have all these ways your kid can become a star, even before they get agents and managers, thanks in large part to Youtube. I mean, that is how Justin Bieber got discovered.
I suppose their are positives for such an experience. Maybe it gives your kid a head start financially in life (or ahem, you, right “Momager?”). Maybe it teaches them to be respectful and professional, and how to work hard.
Or maybe it’s just a bad freaking idea to put your kid in showbiz at such an early age!
Now, I’m not a psychologist, but I do believe children’s brains, and how they see the world, are still in major development between 6 and 13. Imagine if your kid suddenly finds themselves as the next star of a Broadway or TV show, or movie? They are treated like gold and told how amazing they are. They get into clubs (Hi Drew Barrymore!) they should never be allowed in at a young age. They have to deal with creepy producers who see them as commodities. They might even be more prone to sexual abuse.
Then they turn 13 and become gawky. They get acne and start developing or their voices change, and suddenly they are not the cute moppet they once were. They are no longer hirable. It’s possible mom and dad might have even squandered their money (although there are now more laws protecting child stars and their money).
They are in limbo-land. They can neither find their place back in the spotlight, nor can they integrate well back into “normal” life…because many are out of touch with what “normal” really is.
You’ve all heard the horror stories of former child actors and entertainers going off the deep end before. No need to get specific. A few do make the transition from child to adult actor, like Dakota Fanning and Kirsten Dunst (although I do believe she even did a stint in rehab for severe depression).
I suppose many parent’s intentions are honorable when they first discover their kid has talent. Maybe they really do want to nurture their dream, or are struggling financially so they see this as a way for their kid to earn some college money. Or maybe they don’t, and are former actor wannabes who are living vicariously through their children.
If anyone has seen Dance Moms, you know what I’m talking about.
But hey, I don’t have kids so maybe I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. Maybe if my kid was uber talented or super cute, I’d want to nurture that talent too. I mean god forbid I wait until they are 18 to let them do what they want, as their ship might have already sailed, or they find themselves “too old” to be a supermodel.
I think this even crosses over to sports. When I was a kid, club or travel teams were virtually unheard of, and you could cross over to many different sports if you changed interests. Now it seems that colleges won’t even look at you unless you were a in a club team. Am I wrong about that? Not only is it costly, but is it costing your kid early injury from repetition, possible burnout, and costing you financially by having to hire private coaches, nutritionists, travel expenses, etc.? Have we gone too far? Again, I don’t know!
So I just want to open this up for discussion! What do you think? Is there more of a benefit to getting your child exposure at a young age? Do you worry it may be too much for your kid to handle? Or is this a great way for your kid to earn money and get a head start on their career?