Your youngest child has just announced that she wants to be an actor. You may be proud, you may be excited, and you may be thinking, “What do I do now? How do I deal with this?” The best way to handle the situation is by taking these two simple steps:

  1. Provide your child with realistic information about what it’s like to be a professional actor.
  2. Encourage your child’s love of acting―it’s a wonderful way for children to learn self-confidence, discover themselves, and learn to work with others.

Many parents do one of two things when this situation arises: 1) they discourage their kids from acting, which keeps the kids from discovering an art that could be a source of enjoyment for their entire lives (and may cause some kids to think to themselves, “I’m gonna do it just ’cause they say I can’t!”), or 2) they encourage and support the budding actor to such an extent that the child grows up believing it will be easy to pursue a professional career.

You can do both: help your child find out for him- or herself what it’s really like to be a professional actor, and support that urge for self-expression. For yourself, it’s helpful to understand that your child may have emotional needs that he or she thinks can be satisfied through acting (see Psychological Issues). For your kids, the more they find out about the acting business, the more prepared they’ll be to make a realistic choice (see For Beginning Actors).

Some kids need attention, some need to learn how to express themselves, some are looking for respect. A problem arises when a young person chooses an acting career expecting to have certain emotional needs met, only to discover over time that the acting business isn’t anything like what they expected. Help them understand the realities, and encourage their love of art.