When I see ten-year-old high fashion models like Thylane Loubry Blondeau or reality TV stars like Toddlers in Tiaras' case study Eden Wood, I often wonder: what kind of emotional turmoil does one experience after reaching one's supposed career peak before having one's first menstrual period?
Last night, Primetime Nightline attempted to answer my question in a special episode, "Underage and Famous." Highlighting current child stars such as Rebecca Black and looking back with former child stars like Cory Feldman, it was clear over and over again that it doesn’t matter how famous, popular, or well-known you are. If you don’t have parents who see you for who you really are and support you in a genuine way, you’re basically screwed. Yes, therapists have been right all along.
Lisa Damiani, winner of Star Search in 1989 and founder of STAR ROCK for KIDS! couldn’t agree more. Damiani is an expert at sniffing out the difference between the kids who simply want the attention of celebrity and parents who want to ride their coattails, and those kids who have a deep-seated passion and are ready to work alongside the parents who are prepared to support them.
Lisa and I sat down last week for a fantastic conversation about all things child stardom. She says, “It takes passion and tenacity to make it in this business, and if the parents aren’t grounded, the kids won’t be grounded either.” It’s that simple. I heart you, Lisa.
This is a massive topic and worthy of an ongoing series entitled "You Don’t Have to Be One of Them: Horrible Parenting and the Children Who Suffer," but the bottom line is this: Your children come through you, they are not you. If you want something for them that they don’t want, too f***ing bad. Get over it and find a hobby.
If your children want fame so bad and you don’t know if it’s a good idea, get support, ask questions be a parent. Always keep in mind the difference between passion and fame; wanting to be famous just to be famous is a sure sign that something is missing from your child’s inner emotional world. Fame for the sake of fame is a drug that quenches one's need to be seen, to be heard, and to be important. Make sure your children feel seen, feel heard, and feel important in their own home life.
If all is well, healthy, supported, seen, and heard and your child still has a killer voice, the knack for modeling, and the tenacity to go after their dreams, proceed with caution and never stop parenting. There are absolutely exceptions to the rule, so everyone can stop getting their panties in a twist.
Oh, and parents of child stars who can’t seem to get it together: Enough with the stealing your kid's money then drowning your lack of self-worth in a bottle followed by the attempt to have your own career by appearing on Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew. Seriously, nothing says ‘sad’ more than a parent jealous of their own child. Get it together.