Dreaming of stardom may be a fantasy, but what’s the harm in dreaming, right? Becoming a successful child actor or celebrity is a lot like winning the lottery. It can happen quickly and provide more money and privilege than you ever dreamed possible. Have you given much thought to how you might handle the money and fame after it comes? Have you prepared your children for the challenges they will face? We’re not talking about getting an accountant to manage your money; however you’re going to need that too. In this section, we will discuss much deeper issues and encourage you to plant seeds, now, before you start. There are several points to consider while preparing yourself and your child for what will hopefully turn out to be many years of lasting personal fulfillment in this business. We will give you some practical, realistic advice – just in case you strike it rich.
Here’s a big surprise regarding why some child stars become troubled adults: It has nothing to do with lousy parenting!
Did you know there has been a study of lottery winners that shows that a majority of these new millionaires lost money, lost family, lost it all? They experience a shot of energy, enjoy temporary fulfillment and then, bang, it’s over. The same might hold true for your young celebrity if you are not keen to the pitfalls. How will s/he feel when the phone stops ringing?
Whether you are a child or an adult, if you are unprepared for the changes that come with great wealth and fame there is going to be trouble. Paul Petersen, founder of A Minor Consideration, says “most of the time the big changes are not in you,” it’s the “People around you that will change. . . .” “In a short time you’ll be invited to parties and events that you never heard of” and receiving free gifts like clothing, jewelry, computers and more. Everyone will want to be your friend, whether they have earned your friendship or not.
When Shirley Temple Black was asked how she survived being the most famous person on earth at such a young age, Shirley answered “because of my mother. She believed if a child is working in entertainment, that a parent should always be with them to step in front of the child and say, ‘she can’t do that’ or ‘she can’t accept that great gift from you.’ If there isn’t someone to do that, the (child actor) gets spoiled rotten.”
What’s the moral here? Lasting fulfillment must be earned.
As parents, of course you want your child to enjoy childhood and successes, but you also want your child to develop into a happy, healthy, unique, independent, successful, loving and supportive individual, right? It’s a huge responsibility. Don’t let yourself be blinded by the spot light. Child actors need the same structure as any other kid. They need to learn to ‘earn’ everything: trust, respect, money, friendship and success. “Earning” is the elevator that will take your kids all the way to the top. It may seem like a simple concept, but when everyone, and we mean everyone, wants to shower your child with money, gifts, and compliments, will you have the strength to walk away from the buffet? Or, will you continue to feed your ego, convincing yourself that you ‘deserve’ special treatment?
How can we teach our kids about “earnership?” By setting examples.
Don’t accept elaborate gifts from producers. Set limits on gifts and spending; give kids an allowance in exchange for household chores. Provide structure in your family life. Keep going to church, temple, whatever. Encourage your child to continue with education beyond high school, especially if already financially set for life. Most of all, teach about “cause and effect.” DO NOT CHANGE; remain a parent first and foremost.
Think about the things you are most proud of in your life: Guaranteed, it’s the things that you worked hard for, the things you earned. The things we earn give us a true sense of self worth and fulfillment.