I think it's scenes like this that come to mind when we talk about "Stage Mothers" First, I want to go on record saying that I
The truth we need our parents in every aspect of our upbringing. Kids who are trying to have a career at a young age absolutely need a parent (not just a guardian but someone who truly cares for them) around at all times. To make sure they aren't over worked, treated badly or taken advantage of.Basically to be an all round advocate for them.
While it is so important for the parents to be involved in the career of their children. There is a line that can get crossed. The problem is that it is very hard to see where that line is. Now, my children have always come with fur, a tail and like to say "meow". So, I really don't know much about being a "mom" in the biz or anywhere in life for that matter. However, I have been on the other side. I have cast all kinds of shows with kids in them not alone but as part of a team and plain and simply put... Nobody wants to work with the kid with the overly overbearing mom. A less talented child is more likely to get a part if the family is easier to deal with almost every time. You have to always be a parent first but there are definite "no no's" when it comes to kids in the biz and their well meaning folks.
1. Don't ever apologize for your child in an audition. "He usually does this song much better" or "He's just getting over a cold"
The directors and casting people just don't care. That isn't to be mean but their job is to find the right person for their show. The just getting over a cold thing is said by everyone young and old...We don't know when it's true or not. So, we aren't going to really take that into consideration unless it becomes so obvious that the kid is really battling just to get through the audition.
The fact that your child usually does the song better may very well be true but I've yet to see a casting person say..."Well, I don't really think he/she has what we want but his/her mom says he/she is usually much better so let's hire him/her. It just isn't going to happen.
If you feel that your child isn't being given the fair chance at an audition you, as a parent, have to bite your tongue, cover your mouth...ANYTHING you need to do to let your child get through it. It has to be sink or swim.
2. Don't tell the casting people how great your child is. Or how he wowed the crowd at his last gig. They know what they are looking for and if they see it, they will use your child. If they don't...Well then no amount of you telling them what a mistake it is not to work with him is going to change there minds. Of course you want to brag. That's what friends, aunts and uncles are for!
3. You have to do exactly what we teach them to do in an audition situation. Stand up, thank them for the opportunity and leave. Walk out of the building and go directly to your car or a cab. Once inside the automobile you can complain, scream or whatever works for you as much as you want. Then you can go home and tell the rest of the family how badly the audition process was. BUT...don't ever let them see you doing this and this goes for everyone in the building too. We all know how gossip gets around.
It can make a huge difference and put your child as a front runner or runner up for a good part even if the audition wasn't perfect.
4. I've seen children brought to tears not because they didn't do their best for a director or casting person but, for letting their parents down. I've seen parents put their kids through so much anguish over forgetting a line.
It isn't worth it. You may be the agent/manager BUT you have to be the parent first. The person who loves them unconditionally. Even when they totally mess up. They know when they haven't done their part right. No amount of disappointment coming from you is going to make them feel worse than they already do. I know it must be frustrating when so much money goes in for training and transportation, only to have your child forget the one line that you begged him to really work on because you knew for whatever reason they were having a problem with it. Of course they didn't listen to you and now...? It's almost impossible not to say "I told you so".
If you really feel that they need some good constructive critiquing, or extra work then hire someone professionally. It shouldn't come from you.
Now, when is it okay to be "The stage mom"? Anytime you see a situation where your child is being treated in a way that is demeaning or degrading to them. This could be other kids putting him down, adults telling him that he isn't good enough...ANYONE...But even then, get your child and leave. Call the person in charge later and talk about it and let it be known that "whatever it is" will not be tolerated. This is so much better than making a scene ...within the scene.
I have worked with parents enough to know that they only want what's best for their kids...They would gladly walk through fire to spare them a bad experience. But trust in the parenting you have already done. These kids are tougher than we realize. They can handle rejection. They can handle idiots. They just need to know that in your eyes they are more than enough. Everything else will become an opportunity to learn.
And hey who knows you may find yourself on the receiving end of something like this one day....