West Coast Counseling and Group Therapy Center specializes in working with the unique and underlying set of issues that arise in individuals and families that work in the entertainment industry. They sometimes consult with Matisha Baldwin,  a private coach/consultant to parents of children in all stages of their careers in the entertainment industry. She is keenly aware of the shifting dynamics and psychological issues that take place when parents take on the additional role of manager. Her focus goes beyond technique, teaching communication, self-awareness, motivational skills and strategy for both kids and parents.

“Having seen tension in this type of parent-child relationship from the healthy and well balanced to the unhealthy and dysfunctional has made my partnership with WCCC invaluable”.

We recently asked Matisha to give us a list of her Do’s and Dont’s for parents of child actors and specifically those who double as their child’s management.

1)   DON’T pressure or guilt your child with adult concerns even though they are kids with an adult job.

  • “You have to book this job because we need the money.”
  • “Do you know how much sacrifice I have made for you to be doing what you are doing?”
  • “When I was your age, I didn’t have the opportunities you have.  You are so ungrateful.”
  • “You expect to book a job doing that?”

DO find fun and interactive ways to motivate them. Remember, children in the business juggle far more than the average kid who is just going to school and hanging out with their friends. Auditioning alone carries enough pressure.

  • Help them rehearse their material. Make a game out of it.
  • Consistently reassure them with your actions, i.e. high-fives, big smiles and constructive criticism!

Response from Jody and Cindy:

Children feel their own internal pressure to succeed and please their parents and authority figures. It’s our job as parents to motivate and encourage our children to be the best they can be for their own sense of self. Your support will enable them to build their self-confidence.

2)   DON’T handicap your child. They don’t call it the “Entertainment Business” for nothing. Understanding the business side of entertainment is the key to success.

  • If you don’t teach your child to take care of their business and allow them a sense of ownership, they will be passive about the effort they put in. This will result in a failure to succeed and feelings of self-defeat.

DO make your child responsible for their success by being accountable for their corresponding actions. Being prepared will help them feel more secure and accomplished

  • They need to know when, where, and what time their appointments are and the names of the people they will be meeting.
  • They need to be responsible for making sure they have everything they need for their appointments, i.e. headshots, resumes, music, sides, etc.
  • They need to send hand written thank you notes for successful bookings or exceptional audition experiences.
  • They need to initiate studying their material.
  • They have to want it more for themselves than you want it for them.
  • Include them in the after audition follow-up process with the agent and/or manager.

Response from Jody and Cindy:

Teaching your children how to be responsible without being punitive or enabling them is difficult for any parent. It can be even more strenuous when you have deadlines, external demands and hidden agendas. Consider developing a schedule that includes meaningful rewards for following up on their responsibilities. This can include anything from more free time on the weekends, special night out to the theatre with mom and/or dad or the gratification of hearing you brag about the great follow through he or she has been exhibiting.

3)   DON’T bad mouth “The Business” in front of your child.

  • This includes talking negatively about other kids, production staff, casting directors or crew.
  • What you say, your kids will believe. What they believe, they will repeat. This is potentially dangerous on set. You never know who might be observing you and your child.
  • The business is tough enough without adding negative energy to your child’s experience.

DO teach your child the principles and benefits of basic respect. Respect and admiration are often bundled together, but they are not the same. It is possible to respect a person without agreeing with them or even liking them.

  • Teach your child that Respect is a quality or state of being. What they do and say, not just at home, but out in the outside world defines their level of respect.
  • Comfort your child when they have a bad experience. Let them know that they cannot control how others act, only how they react.
  • Let your child know it is okay not to care for someone’s personality or behavior, but they should always be respectful.

Response from Jody and Cindy:

It is so important that your child has a safe and nurturing person to express what may be considered “unacceptable” feeling and thoughts. They need to be able to be frustrated or angry without consequences. They should be able to complain without rejection. It is a good thing if they can actually say they are tired, hungry or even bored. This doesn’t mean they aren’t interested or selfish. By holding and honoring their feelings you will prepare them to get back on the horse and be the consummate professional that you know them to be.

4)   DON’T network for your child or allow your emotions to play a part at their events. You are there to be supportive, not to be the center of attention.

  • Don’t allow your emotions to play a part at these events.
  • If you feel your child is not getting their fair share of acknowledgement, this is not the time to make it known with your words or actions.
  • If you feel frustrated or embarrassed when your child is a bit awkward during these events, don’t worry; they’ll land on their feet.
  • It is inappropriate to throw yourself or your child onto people during these events.
  • Name dropping and bragging is unnecessary when your child’s work and talent will stand on its own.

DO encourage and teach your child the art of networking until it becomes second nature. They are never too young to develop a good habit. Physical interaction and presence still drives success.

  • During classes, events or even at the grocery store, no time is a bad time to engage with the world and practice selling that winning personality.
  • Social media may be the way to build a fan base, but engaging in real time is what gets you hired and keeps you employed.
  • Nothing tops a kid with a great personality who can look you in the eye, shake your hand and introduce themselves with confidence.
  • Do your homework. Know who the people are in your presence so you can comfortably and casually talk with them.
  • Do remember to be gracious.

Response from Jody and Cindy: 

Keep it real. Networking is a beneficial part of business, but it needs to be genuine for you and your child to maintain respect for yourselves. Finding a balancing between being “mom” and “manager” is the tough part. 

5)   DON’T get caught up in the glitz, glam and delusions of grandeur. What goes up must come down. It is the law of gravity.

  • Don’t be another “Yes” person in your child’s life.
  • Don’t lead your child to believe that there isn’t room for improvement and growth.
  • Don’t allow your child to value themselves by social media or their successes and failures in this business.
  • Don’t allow your child to believe they are irreplaceable.

DO be humble. All of these next points are for both parent and child to actively practice. Know that you will fall, that is the nature of this business and life. But, just because you fall doesn’t mean you have to fail. and you will always get up.

  • Have a life outside of the business.
  • Have values and morals and stand by them.
  • Make family a priority.
  • Self – validate, motivate and cultivate
  • Work hard, live in the moment and have fun.

Response from Jody and Cindy:

Every parent wants the best for their child so where do you the draw the line? Know your limits. Recognize when the idea of “this is fun and exciting” becomes a disconnect between you and your child. Remember that your relationship with your child, no matter what their age, trumps money and status. In turn, your child will evolve into a well-adjusted, considerate and expressive young person with a massive amount of creativity and talent.

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