Stage Mom or Child Actor Parent
The title "Stage Mom" or "Stage Parent" is very defining and on the surface makes sense (ie a mom or parent whose kids work on stage), however, I have reason to believe
that in many cases this title is not always a positive one and sometime carries an underlined meaning. This sad, often accurate and sometimes inaccurate label, has its roots planted in the parents of the past who have earned the title - and all the connotations that come with it.
In an attempt to decipher
the realities we all face in this industry, I've been studying my surroundings - specifically why we have "earned" this bad-rap name, here we go…..
I believe that we as parents are not always clear on our role and on how to control our children on set, thus the fear factor of working (yes working) with our own children sets in. You see, it is necessary to work with kids, but it is work, when a child is hired. But then they also have to be a real kid (both on screen and off) and are also expected to act like an adult on set. This is where the discrepancy lies. For the parent, this is arguably where things get a bit confusing.
In a recent film shoot we talked with a very seasoned cameraman who shared his candid views on working with children. Lets just say he confirmed the frustrating challenge of getting the kids to listen and focus. No different than any other person whose job comes with responsibilities, he wants to get his work done with the greatest of ease. Now, we must also understand that film making is a creative process, thus making it very different from a traditional job, very unique indeed, yet, its work and people expect cooperation in any work environment.
I do believe we, the Stage Parent, have a hurdle to get over in many set situations. I also believe we must make steps to changing the connotation behind "Stage Parent". One way to start is by changing the title. We are "Child Actor Parents" not "Stage Moms/Dads" or "Stage Parents." In my mind, this is an equalizing title and redefines how I prefer our family to be perceived/respected.
The trick now is to earn the new, positive title by way of teaching ourselves and children how to act on set and most importantly, as a parent, take the time to research general set expectations. Then measure how you are doing.
Because we are sometimes tagged/targeted as "Stage Mom," we must take the responsibility to work out of this title and become recognized as much of an equal to the set as the adults. If we stick to focusing on our Child Actor opportunities and aspire to work to become a seasoned actor, we focus on us, which we can control.
This improving process takes time and, make no mistake, in this small universe we work in, talks and word gets around. We have a choice: to be talked about with respect or lack thereof; we decide the outcome, which obviously impacts one's future working opportunities.
Come to set/work prepared, focus, listen, work safe, be respectful and learn the process.
We must always remember it is work when we're on set - not a holiday. What makes it fun is when we all respect the work process, thus exceeding the expectations of the directors, producers, cast and crew. This, I can assure, will lead to other work opportunities and place ones family as respected equals - part of the team!