How to Avoid Becoming that Stage Mom

7 Tips for Being a Great Stage Mom from the Experts7 Tips for Being a Great Stage Mom from the ExpertsHave you seen ABC's new show Nashville yet? The dominating theme of the first episode is age - young phenom versus established legend. In a way I feel badly for both women because they're working in an industry that feeds their respective insecurities. And it also reminds me of why I'm afraid for kids who want to be entertainers, especially my own.

"You should get an agent!"

"That kid is so cute, he could be in movies!"

If I had a nickel… Since we've lived in California, my kids have been scouted at least a dozen times. Some of these scouts have been for real. Some have been bogus, but I wasn't fooled. I can tell the difference because I have some savvy stage mom pals. Successful ones, too - my friends' kids have starred in movies, cable TV specials, sitcoms and they've performed voice-overs for animated series. They've done commercials and they've done reality tv, and they've shared their secrets with me.

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My oldest daughter attends a school for the performing arts where IMDB pages are as common as Facebook profiles. Matt Morrison of Glee is an alumnus, and credits the school for his success. Last week one of my daughter's classmates was on The Voice. This week the girl who sat next to her in an acting class last year, is on Dance Moms. That explains why my daughter ran into Abby Lee Miller in the school office last spring. Reality TV is her reality.

My kids have been jealous at times. Flipping through the channels and seeing their friends is "normal" for them. It's impossible for them not to feel a part of the entertainment industry when it is so pervasively all around them.

"Why can't we do that too?!" they want to know.

"Because," I tell them, "the pros make it look easy." They know. They also know that's only half the story.

I also don't think they, or I, have what it takes. Not that they lack talent, or good looks - they are truly blessed. They can even sing. I can't blame the scouts for scouting them. They're adorable. But what they lack is the passion, drive, and discipline. Also the driver. I am not available to shuttle my kids to classes and auditions, though I'm sure I would find a way IF it was truly their burning passion.

My kids get it. They see how hard their friends work. They are aware of the types of tough choices and sacrifices involved with the pursuit of a career in the spotlight. They're proud of their pals when it pays off.

Related: 6 ways to support your kids without being a stage mom

If they do decide to make it a goal, I'm fortunate that I have a great set of friends to turn to for advice and a reality check about how to get your kids into "the biz." My stage mom pals have been there and done that. They have different ideas, experiences and thoughts about the journey, but the one thing they all agree upon is that your child must love, love, love what they do.

Consider the following practical advice:

1. You're still the boss
Establish that YOU (parent/ guardian) are still boss on set. Children are often spoiled and catered to on sets because they are cute and commonly precocious. If you're child is interested in a career in this business they should respect and listen to their PARENT on set and parents need to be a solid, consistent source of discipline and comfort. With that - if your kid acts like a brat on set…s/he will be replaced.

2. Don't be late!
Once you book the job, be early to set and take into account how long it might take your child to walk from a far parking spot, change into wardrobe, use the potty etc. especially if your child is quite young, the impression s/he makes on the production staff is largely up to you!

3. Don't meddle
Find the balance of being protective of your child but know when to let the professionals do their job. All minors will have a studio teacher on set to make sure children are treated fairly and safely. It's still good to be aware of what's going on but don't meddle unless you feel there's a real issue. "My son looks bad in the color green," is not a real issue. It is possible for an overbearing stage parent to cost their child a job.

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4. Don't bribe your way through it
If your child does not enjoy being on set and enjoy acting, NEVER resort to bribery. It's time to examine the possibility that your kid is not cut out for show biz. Acting on a professional set or stage is fun some of the time, but a lot of the time it can tedious and even stressful. It takes a certain kind of child to thrive in adult working conditions. Of course, your child may not know until they book that first job and shoot it, but be honest with yourself if it's not the right choice.

5. Study Study Study!
This Means Acting Classes, Improv and Scene Study. Don't put your kid "out there" on auditions and interviews until he or she is truly ready to go out.

6. Get Professional Photos Taken
Get Head Shots (good ones) from a professional photographer preferably one who specializes in babies, kids and teens. Make sure you leave with both Commercial and Theatrical looks. This will be your child's calling card and first impression with casting directors.

7. Talk to an Agent
Submit to the top talent agencies for kids in your market after having researched them thoroughly. Meet with them in person before making a commitment.

- By Ciaran Blumenfeld

For 7 more tips for being a great stage mom, visit Babble!


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Ciaran Blumenfeld is a producer, designer, publisher and "crazy busy" mom of 4 kids whose ages range from pre-school to high school.

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